The A’s are looking for positive news in any form these days, and reliever Edward Mujica was providing some.
In his brief time with Oakland, Mujica has been an effective force out of the bullpen. So Thursday’s 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays was even tougher to digest after it was announced that Mujica suffered a fractured right thumb that will land him on the disabled list.
The veteran was struck by a liner off the bat of Bobby Wilson in the bottom of the seventh. The ball glanced off his thumb, hit Mujica’s body and fell in front of the mound. Mujica, even with the injury to his throwing hand, managed to retrieve the ball and fire off an accurate throw to get Wilson at first as Brandon Guyer scored on the play. Mujica’s hand got cut on the play, and the ball was covered in blood after he made the throw to first.
Though Mujica’s fracture reportedly is a minor one, he’ll be the latest Athletic to join the DL. With the A’s having lost 13 of their past 15, the daily injury updates are the most compelling storylines surrounding this team right now.
Who might get the call-up to take Mujica’s roster spot? R.J. Alvarez and Ryan Cook both are options, and both are on the 40-man roster. Switch pitcher Pat Venditte is not currently on the 40-man, and that’s a consideration in whether he gets promoted. (Speculation here, but were Coco Crisp’s neck injury serious enough, the A’s could place him on the 60-day DL if they wanted to clear a 40-man spot for the ambidextrous reliever).
Thursday’s loss dropped the A’s (14-29) to 15 games under .500 for the first time since Sept. 27, 2011, when they were 73-88. In need of a silver lining?
Jesse Chavez looked sharp in his six-plus innings, holding the Rays to two runs until he left in the seventh (a third run was charged to Chavez with Mujica in the game). Chavez allowed just five hits. He struck out six and walked one, and his sinker was dancing all over the strike zone.
Chavez’s effort was a heartening one for the A’s, considering their starting rotation has an air of uncertainty surrounding it after the shoulder injury that landed Drew Pomeranz on the DL. Kendall Graveman will be called up to take his start Saturday.
Will Graveman hold his own and warrant another extended look in the rotation? Will it soon be time to give Chris Bassitt or Sean Nolin a look as a starter? After Jesse Hahn threw well Wednesday, it seems the A’s can feel relatively good about four of the five guys in their rotation right now – Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Chavez and Hahn, with the fifth spot a mystery.
As for how to pull out some victories, that too remains a mystery for the A’s, and a tough one to solve.