OAKLAND – A’s closer Sean Doolittle was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday, leaving a question mark in the ninth inning for the American League West co-leaders.
An MRI showed Doolittle has a strained right intercostal muscle in his side, after he felt discomfort on his final two pitches in Saturday night’s save against the Los Angeles Angels.
Reliever Dan Otero, optioned to Triple-A Sacramento just two days ago, was recalled to take Doolittle’s roster spot. Players normally are required to spend a minimum of 10 days in the minors after being optioned, but that rule is waived if they’re replacing an injured player.
A’s manager Bob Melvin, addressing reporters before the Doolittle transaction was announced, said he didn’t have an immediate plan for the closer spot in Doolittle’s absence.
“If it is a situation where we don’t have him for a while, I would like to have a (regular) closer,” Melvin said. “We’ll try to match up today, and sit down and do what we think is best going forward. It’s easy to say you’ll just match up, but sometimes it doesn’t always work out great that way. But we have plenty of candidates down there that can do it.”
Luke Gregerson shared closer duties with Doolittle for a period early in the season after Jim Johnson was pulled from the role. Gregerson, 3-2 with a 2.17 ERA and three saves this season, has been stellar in an eighth-inning setup role since Doolittle became the full-time closer. Ryan Cook spent extended time as the A’s closer in 2012, when he was an All-Star. Otero has notched one save this season.
Hard-throwing lefty Fernando Abad has excelled this season with runners on base, but he’s yet to register a save in five major league seasons. Fellow lefty Eric O’Flaherty could also be an option.
At any rate, the A’s were generating no shortage of news before they even took the field attempting to sweep the Angels and reclaim sole possession of first place.
They acquired two catchers -- Geovany Soto from the Texas Rangers and minor leaguer Bryan Anderson from the Cincinnati Reds – Sunday afternoon, as their surplus of catching depth has taken a big hit.
John Jaso is likely headed for the seven-day concussion D.L. after taking a hard foul tip off the mask two weeks ago and experiencing continuing symptoms.
It’s a concern as Jaso missed the final two-plus months of 2013 with a concussion, which he said was his second.
“I got hit pretty hard a (couple weeks) ago, and I've been kind of like muscling through the games and just kind of powering through,” Jaso said. “But the symptoms kind of escalated this past few days and got to the point where it was a little iffy if I could keep going back there behind the plate and catch. I think we're going to give it a little bit of time to calm.”
Jaso said he’s been able to take competitive at-bats but admitted, “I see a fuzzy white ball coming at me.”
Stephen Vogt has long been dealing with a foot injury, and he’s available to catch only in an emergency. The right-handed hitting Soto will join the A’s on Monday, and he’ll share duties for the time being with Derek Norris, who has been playing with back issues himself.
The A’s could be making another roster addition, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the A’s have claimed Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar off waivers from Tampa Bay. The clubs have until Tuesday afternoon to work out a trade, or else the Rays will pull him off waivers and retain him.
The A’s have a hole at short right now with Jed Lowrie sidelined by a fractured finger.
There was no immediate word on the results of third baseman Josh Donaldson’s MRI after he aggravated his knee Saturday night. Melvin said he’s hopeful it’s only precautionary.