OAKLAND — Since coming off the disabled list in mid-June, Liam Hendriks has provided the A’s bullpen with quite a boost.
The right-hander posted an 8.27 ERA in his 11 outings leading up to a stint on the 15-day DL for a triceps strain in his throwing arm. Since returning to health, he’s expanded his repertoire to keep hitters off balance.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said Hendriks has supplemented his four-seam fastball with a two-seamer that features good movement and a sharper slider than he had before his injury.
“Before, he was getting behind in counts, throwing mostly four-seam fastballs,” Melvin said. “But I think the fact that he now has a movement fastball as well as a much better slider, has led to certainly more appearances and (him being) a lot more productive. Since coming off the DL for us, he’s been one of our better relievers.”
In 21 appearances since his return, Hendriks has posted a 2.03 ERA and .194 opponents’ batting average. His emergence has been timely with late-inning reliever Sean Doolittle having missed the past six weeks with a strained shoulder.
Doolittle said before Wednesday’s game against Baltimore that he’ll throw off the mound again Friday, either a regular bullpen session or a live batting practice situation. After one or two times facing hitters, there’s a good chance Doolittle could begin a rehab assignment.
“We're going to see how I feel throwing over the next couple days before we make that decision,” Doolittle said. “I would say I'm close but I don't want to put a timetable on it yet."
Melvin said he’s hopeful of getting the lefty back to the active roster before the end of August.
Doolittle, the A’s union representative, said players are looking to move forward and rebuild trust after strength and conditioning coach Mike Henriques was reinstated from suspension for planting a camera in the weight room to secretly monitor players rehabbing from injury while the team was on a road trip.
Doolittle said Henriques has talked to players, both individually and in a group, to try to smooth things over. Asked whether A’s players as a whole agreed with the decision to reinstate Henriques, Doolittle didn’t give a direct answer.
“I don’t speculate on how many players are or aren’t” in agreement, he said. “One thing everybody is in agreement about is we’re gonna move forward with this and work as a group to repair some of that trust that was damaged.”
Henriques, via an A’s public relations official, declined comment.
Right-hander Henderson Alvarez, working back from complications after shoulder surgery, is playing catch out to 90 feet but there’s no timetable for him to get on the mound yet.