OAKLAND — Henderson Alvarez had another encouraging minor league rehab outing Saturday, and it’s looking more realistic that the A’s could welcome the right-hander back on their next homestand.
Alvarez, working back from shoulder surgery that took place last summer, threw four innings for Single-A Stockton and allowed just one hit Saturday against Modesto, striking out four and walking one.
Manager Bob Melvin said Alvarez’s next start will come Thursday — that outing is likely to be with Triple-A Nashville — and Alvarez will stretch out to five innings or about 75 pitches.
“We’re getting to the point where we’re starting to get excited about it,” Melvin said before Sunday’s series finale against the Astros.
Melvin added that once a pitcher gets to the 90-pitch mark on a rehab assignment, “you’re getting real close” to the pitcher returning. Given Alvarez’s progression on an every-fifth-day throwing schedule, it’s looking very possible that he could make his A’s debut on May 20 against the Yankees at the Coliseum. That’s the day that he would have to be activated from the disabled list if his minor league rehab assignment goes its maximum length.
If he stays on his current pitching schedule, May 20 would also be his natural day to throw.
Melvin added that Alvarez mixed in a couple of “eephus" curve balls on Saturday.
“That means he’s feeling pretty good,” Melvin said.
Alvarez has been known to throw a hitter a high-arching eephus-style pitch in major league games on occasion.
In more encouraging injury news for the A’s, third baseman Danny Valencia is scheduled to begin a three-day rehab assignment with Single-A Stockton on Monday. Melvin said he expects Valencia to fly to Baltimore with the team Thursday, and if all goes well with his strained left hamstring, Valencia would return to the lineup Friday against the Orioles