TORONTO – The need for a versatile infielder prompted the A’s to promote Tyler Ladendorf from Triple-A Nashville on Friday, as Danny Valencia was placed on the 15-day disabled list as expected with a strained left hamstring.
Ladendorf showed his jack-of-all-trades ability in spring training 2015, when he surprisingly won an Opening Night roster spot. He suffered a badly sprained left ankle that required surgery and sidelined him for a large chunk of last season before he made it back to the bigs in September.
Now he’ll give the A’s the backup infielder they needed, and his ability to play shortstop in a pinch is a particular bonus. Second baseman Jed Lowrie was doubling as Marcus Semien’s backup at short.
“There are very few guys that can play defense as well as he can at all the positions,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said before Friday’s series opener at Toronto. “It’s nice to have him here.”
Ladendorf’s only issue with his promotion was all the travel it entailed. Nashville is playing a series in Colorado Springs, and because Ladendorf didn’t have his passport with him, he had to fly to Nashville Thursday night and then catch a plan to Toronto on Friday.
It was worth the sacrifice if it meant a ticket back to the major leagues.
“I feel like I fit in pretty good here,” Ladendorf said. “I was playing primarily center (for Nashville), but just before game time, I would take grounders in the infield. I wanted to make sure I was covered if I came here. I wanted to be sure I would be ready.”
Chris Coghlan has made some nice plays at third the past two games in filling in for Valencia. Ladendorf could potentially fit as a late-game defensive replacement at second for Lowrie. Melvin has actually talked about getting Lowrie a day off, but the way the veteran switch hitter has been swinging the bat, that could be tough to do.
Lowrie entered Friday 7-for-13 over his last four games and he was batting an American League-best .615 (8-for-13) with runners in scoring position. He’s serving as the cleanup hitter with Valencia out.
“Jed is a chameleon as far as the lineup,” Melvin said. “He can hit anywhere.”
Blue Jays third baseman and reigning American League MVP Josh Donaldson attracted a big crowd of media around his locker as he prepared to face his former team Friday night. Among the topics covered was the bizarre occurrence in Toronto’s game Thursday against Baltimore, when Donaldson had a line drive literally go through his glove.
Donaldson has a theory of what happened.
“I’d been breaking my glove in by putting it in the sauna,” he said. “I think the sauna fried one of my laces.”