SAN FRANCISCO — With right fielder Josh Reddick back in the A’s lineup Tuesday, Oakland is preparing to welcome another key player back from the disabled list in the next few days.
Rich Hill will be activated Saturday and pitch that day against the Pittsburgh Pirates, his first game since leaving a May 29 start with a strained groin. That news continues a welcome trend for manager Bob Melvin, who not only got Reddick back from a fractured thumb but will have lefty Sean Manaea come off the DL on Wednesday to pitch against the Giants.
Tuesday marked the first day the A’s have had fewer than 10 players on the DL since May 9. They currently have nine, and have used the DL 16 times total this season.
“We’re starting to get a little bit healthier, which is a good thing,” Melvin said, “and we’re starting to play a little better.”
Hill was emerging as one of the American League’s surprise stories before getting hurt. The 36-year-old journeyman is 8-3 with a 2.25 ERA and seemed well on his way to his first All-Star berth before the setback. At the time, his eight wins ranked second in the league and his 74 strikeouts were third.
“Similar to the Reddick situation, you’re getting a guy back that was pitching like a No. 1,” Melvin said. With Hill going Saturday, Daniel Mengden will be given an extra day of rest and go Sunday. The A’s currently have just four starters and have been going with an eight-man bullpen. When Manaea comes off the DL on Wednesday, a reliever will likely be sent down. Then the A’s will have a decision to make on which starter to bump to make room for Hill.
Reddick said he made the call to extend his rehab assignment by two games with Triple-A Nashville, and that the extra time to get readjusted to live pitching was needed.
“The last two days were a lot better than the first few,” he said. “The first few were pretty horrendous to be a part of. I thought it was best to get a few more at-bats.”
Overall, he went just 3-for-25 with a home run over six games with Nashville.