OAKLAND – The final piece of the A’s starting rotation remained in limbo Saturday pending the condition of Felix Doubront’s left forearm.
Doubront went for an MRI after pitching just one inning in the Bay Bridge Series finale because of tightness in his forearm.
It’s a potentially costly blow to Oakland’s pitching staff depending on how severe Doubront’s injury is. The left-hander was just tapped as the A’s No. 5 starter Tuesday, the same day Jesse Hahn was sent to Triple-A Nashville. Manager Bob Melvin wasn’t ruling Doubront out for his first scheduled regular season start Friday at Seattle, but problems with the forearm sometimes can be a precursor to more serious elbow issues. Melvin said the 28-year-old Doubront has experienced forearm tightness previously in his career.
“You could see the velocity was way down for him in the first, so we got him out of there,” Melvin said. “We’re not sure where it’s going to go. We’ll probably know more a little bit later. He didn’t feel too concerned about it but admitted it’s a little tight. Therefore we got him out.”
Left-hander Eric Surkamp wound up being an unexpected hero in the A’s 4-1 victory over the Giants that avoided an exhibition sweep at the hands of their cross-bay rivals. The ex-Giant, entering in relief of Doubront, held his former team to two hits over seven scoreless innings, striking out seven and walking one.
Despite that effort, Surkamp was reassigned to minor league camp after the game along with five others, including top pitching prospect Sean Manaea. That points to Hahn, demoted Tuesday, making a quick return to the bigs to fill the fifth starter spot should Doubront join the disabled list. Players normally have to spend a minimum of 10 days in the minors after being optioned, but that rule is waived if the player replaces someone going on the DL.
Hahn struggled to an 11.15 ERA in the spring which led to his demotion, but Melvin said even at that time that Hahn would re-emerge as a key part of the team at some point this season.
He reiterated that Saturday.
“Surkamp made a name for himself today too, but Jesse Hahn is a guy who’s not here with us right now, but he is,” Melvin said. “He’s a guy we are going to have over the course of the season, and he was very impactful last year.”
The A’s finalized their 25-man roster by optioning outfielder Andrew Lambo to Triple-A and placing four players on the 15-day disabled list – infielder Eric Sogard (neck strain), outfielder Sam Fuld (strained left shoulder) and right-handers Henderson Alvarez (shoulder surgery) and R.J. Alvarez (elbow surgery). Of those four, only Sogard’s status remained up in the air entering Saturday. Melvin said his neck is getting better but he is still unable to play right now.
Along with Manaea and Surkamp, the other four non-roster invitees reassigned to the minors were third baseman Matt Chapman – who hit his sixth spring homer on the first pitch he saw Saturday – pitcher Patrick Schuster and catchers Bruce Maxwell and Matt McBride.
The A’s current 25-man Opening Night roster is as follows: Pitchers (12): John Axford, Chris Bassitt, Sean Doolittle, Felix Doubront, Ryan Dull, Kendall Graveman, Sonny Gray, Liam Hendriks, Rich Hill, Ryan Madson, Felix Rodriguez, Marc Rzepczynski; Catchers (2): Josh Phegley, Stephen Vogt; Infielders (6): Yonder Alonso, Billy Butler, Mark Canha, Jed Lowrie, Marcus Semien, Danny Valencia; Outfielders (5): Billy Burns, Chris Coghlan, Coco Crisp, Khris Davis, Josh Reddick.