Programming note: Angels-A’s coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with A's Pregame Live on CSN California.
OAKLAND – Everything was going so good for Tyler Ladendorf, until it all went so bad.
The longtime minor leaguer excelled during spring training with the A’s and cracked his first big league roster, at age 27, coming out of camp. Just a week into the season, he was demoted to Triple-A Nashville when Josh Reddick came off the disabled list. A few days after that, Ladendorf suffered a high ankle sprain that required surgery, sidelining him for months.
It was a rough turn of events for the utility man, but Ladendorf is back with the A’s as one of eight players called up Tuesday, the first day rosters could expand to 40.
“It’s no different than going through the minor leagues,” Ladendorf said. “I just want to get on the field. I just want to be out there and contribute. I’m just glad to be back.”
What helped the right-handed hitting Ladendorf emerge during the spring was his versatility. He can play the middle infield spots and third base, and he also holds his own in the outfield. Even when he was sent down, A’s manager Bob Melvin said he expected Ladendorf back at some point. Still, the ticket back to Triple-A was hard on Ladendorf.
“To be honest with you, getting sent down was more deflating” than the injury, he said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever experienced that.”
Then he was trying to stretch out a double for Nashville, and his left foot hit a soft spot in the dirt. He knew right away he’d seriously hurt his ankle. Adding some extra sting was the realization that Ladendorf could have been returning to the majors just a few days after he was hurt, when Ben Zobrist – another super-utility man – went down with his own injury on the big league club.
But Ladendorf didn’t dwell on things too long. Now he’s back in the big leagues, part of a diverse mix of call-ups that includes older players with prior major league experience, like outfielder Jason Pridie, reliever Dan Otero and Ladendorf. There’s also players getting their first shot in the bigs, like catcher Carson Blair and reliever Ryan Dull.
Talk about bucking the odds. The 25-year-old Dull was a 32nd round pick in 2012 out of UNC-Ashville, but he grabbed the attention of club officials this year by posting an 0.74 ERA with 12 saves in 47 appearances split between Double-A Midland and Nashville. He combined for 73 strikeouts and just 16 walks in 61 total innings.
Listed at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Dull hardly has an intimidating physical presence.
“I probably more recognized him in uniform than I did out of uniform,” Melvin said with a grin. “With those types of numbers, maybe you’re thinking 6-3, 230. But he’s not.”
Starting pitcher Chris Bassitt has soreness in the scapula muscle in the back of his shoulder but no structural damage. Neither he nor Melvin sounded overly concerned. There’s no word yet when he’ll begin throwing again, but the plan is definitely to get him back pitching in games this season.
Reliever Evan Scribner, who left Monday’s game after one batter, also has a scapula issue. His status is less clear, and he’s scheduled to be checked by doctors.