Programming note: Twins-A's coverage starts today at 12:30 p.m. with A's Pregame Live on CSN California.
OAKLAND – Taylor Thompson has not generated much discussion when it comes to the A’s bullpen plans, but he could get his shot before the season is over.
Oakland claimed the 6-foot-5 right-hander off waivers from the White Sox in the offseason, but he’s flown under the radar with a shoulder injury that’s sidelined him all season.
On Tuesday, Thompson is scheduled to make his first rehab appearance with Single-A Stockton, and it will be interesting to see if he impacts the major league relief corps over the final 2 ½ months of the season.
He’s spent all season rehabbing with the big club, and it’s got to be an odd experience for a player joining a new organization to be around unfamiliar teammates and not be able to contribute on the field. Although Thompson’s name won’t ring a bell with fans yet, the A’s brass believes he can contribute.
“His stuff looks good,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s got a real sound delivery, some downhill plane to it. I haven’t seen him throw to hitters yet, but there’s a reason he’s still with us on the roster. We feel like he can be an impact guy.”
A 44th round pick of the White Sox in 2009, Thompson didn’t make his big league debut until last season at age 27. He made five appearances, allowing six runs in 5 1/3 innings. He throws a fastball in the low 90’s to go with a slider and splitter. Given his extensive time in the minors and the strained shoulder that’s sidelined him this season, it will be quite an accomplishment if Thompson finds himself taking the mound for Oakland this season.
Reliever Pat Venditte will face hitters Monday in Stockton. The switch pitcher will throw 15 pitches from each side as he continues working his way back from a strained right shoulder.
After delivering a game-tying pinch-hit single off Twins All-Star closer Glen Perkins on Saturday, Jake Smolinski is hitting fifth and playing left field Sunday for the A’s against lefty Tommy Milone. Smolinski figures to be in the lineup Monday and Tuesday too, with the A’s set to face lefties in Toronto’s Mark Buehrle and Felix Doubront. It will be Smolinski’s first extended stretch of action since being recalled from the minors July 7.