ARLINGTON, Texas — Rich Hill threw off the mound Sunday, but there is still no plan for when he might return to the rotation.
Hill is throwing with protective tape, and a wrap over the tape, on his left middle finger to protect a blister that is still healing. He threw most of Sunday’s session wearing the tape and wrap, but removed the wrap for his final 10 pitches to allow him to spin some curve balls.
“It’s coming along, but there’s still one little hot spot there,” Hill said before Monday’s series opener with the Texas Rangers.
“Until he can throw off the mound without (any protective gear) and it doesn’t affect him, we still don’t have a target date for him,” manager Bob Melvin said. “But we’re keeping him on the roster for a reason, because hopefully we can fit him in at some point on this road trip.”
As for trade speculation involving the lefty, the American League West-leading Rangers are well-known to be looking for starting pitching. But the scuttlebutt around their team is that Texas may not be keen on dealing within the division. Though the Rangers also have been linked to the relief market, upgrading their rotation is the priority.
Keeping Hill on the active roster is one reason the A’s optioned Jesse Hahn back to Triple-A Nashville on Monday. In addition, the A’s day off Thursday allows them to utilize a four-man rotation for the time being if they choose. They also needed another position player to deepen their bench. Max Muncy, who replaced Hahn on the roster, can play both corner infield spots, both corner outfield spots, and he said he’s benefited from the time he’s gotten at second base in the minors too.
Catcher Stephen Vogt will rejoin the A’s on Tuesday after spending three days on the family medical leave list, Melvin said.
That likely means Bruce Maxwell, who received his first major league start behind the plate Sunday, will be sent down. Keeping Matt McBride as the second catcher will maintain the lefty-righty platoon that the A’s prefer.
Vogt has already arrived in Arlington, but he’s not allowed to work out with the team until Tuesday, because he must spend the minimum three days that are required on the family medical leave list when such a transaction is used.
Melvin praised Maxwell for his work Sunday calling pitches for Hahn’s strong outing. Maxwell is hitless over five plate appearances so far.
“Your first big league (start), a lot of things can be a distraction for you,” Melvin said. “I thought he did a great job.”