OAKLAND — The long-awaited A’s debut of Henderson Alvarez may not be far off.
Alvarez threw a 45-pitch bullpen session Wednesday and is scheduled to throw between five and six innings Saturday with Triple-A Nashville. If that goes well, manager Bob Melvin said Alvarez could then be activated from the 60-day disabled list.
Signed in the offseason to a one-year $4.25 million contract, Alvarez has yet to return to a big league mound since undergoing shoulder surgery last July while he was a member of the Miami Marlins. He was close to joining the A’s in mid-May when he suffered a setback with his shoulder that delayed his return.
“If everything goes well (Saturday), you could see him on the mound for us next,” Melvin said before Wednesday night’s game against Texas. “As always, I get ahead of myself. But if he can get it to close to 70 pitches and feels good — this really is his second rehab— hopefully that’s the case.”
That means Alvarez could conceivably make his 2016 debut either June 23 or 24 against the Angels in Anaheim, depending on how the A’s want to set up their rotation coming out of Monday’s day off.
The 26-year-old Alvarez, 27-34 with a 3.80 ERA over five major league seasons, broke in with Toronto in 2011 as one of the Blue Jays’ top prospects. He was part of the 11-player trade between the Jays and Marlins that sent Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and others to Toronto. Alvarez was an All-Star in 2014 for Miami and he threw a no-hitter on the final day of the 2013 regular season.
“Everything was working good in the bullpen (Wednesday), especially the slider,” Alvarez said through interpreter Alex Arpiza. “It was working exactly how you want it to work.”
The A’s have team control over Alvarez for the 2017 season as well (he’ll once again be eligible for arbitration this offseason).
Until he returns, and until the A’s get either Rich Hill or Sean Manaea back from the disabled list, the rotation will be a patch-work operation. The A’s still haven’t announced a starter for Saturday — Manaea’s turn in the rotation — but there appears a good chance that Zach Neal will step in from the bullpen and make a spot start against the Angels, who are scheduled to start Tim Lincecum that day at the Coliseum.
All indications are Eric Surkamp will make another start Sunday despite an 8.07 ERA at the big league level.
Right fielder Josh Reddick will test his fractured left thumb by taking batting practice for the first time Friday. If that goes well, Melvin said Reddick could begin a minor league rehab assignment a few days after that.