OAKLAND –- Danny Valencia is the latest A’s position player to hit the injury list.
The third baseman is nursing soreness in his right leg that has been building for a few days, and it was enough to keep him out of Saturday’s lineup against Tampa Bay after Valencia originally was penciled in.
Manager Bob Melvin didn’t have specifics on the exact problem area, saying it was in the area of the hamstring. But it was enough for Valencia to undergo an MRI on Saturday. A doctor is expected to review the results Sunday.
“We want to make sure he’s not going out there injured,” Melvin said. “He had an MRI today, and the doctor will take a look at the MRI tomorrow and we’ll have a better idea of how many days he’s gonna miss.”
The A’s have lost first baseman Ike Davis to season-ending hip surgery, and infielder Brett Lawrie and left fielder Coco Crisp have both missed games recently with injuries.
Being without Valencia for any length of time would be a blow. Though he’s cooled off recently, he’s emerged as one of the team’s top contributors since being claimed off waivers from Toronto on Aug. 3. He’s hitting just .255 but has four home runs and 10 RBI in 13 games overall. For as long as Valencia is out, Lawrie will go back to being the primary third baseman after seeing time at second base.
With Sean Doolittle activated from the disabled list, Melvin said he envisions Doolittle pitching in the closer’s role. It’s just a matter of when.
“Whether it’s put him right in there or give him a lesser role to start, we’ll see,” Melvin said.
But when asked further about Doolittle closing, he added: “Well, that’s what he does. So as long as he’s healthy and feels good, we’ll get him back there at some point.”
Doolittle’s fastball has touched 93 in rehab outings, an improvement over his first comeback attempt from a shoulder injury in May, when he appeared in just one game and then returned to the disabled list.
He said he draws confidence from his velocity, the fact his shoulder feels good physically and the fact his mechanics seem all squared away.
Despite the fact that there’s just six weeks left in the season, Doolittle said it’s important that he proves to himself that he’s healthy going into the offseason.
His comments also suggest he’s taking nothing for granted as far as being the closer in 2016.
“Hopefully I can pitch well the rest of this year and throw my name in the hat to get back in the closer role next year,” he said.