UPDATE: (2pm on Friday) -- The A's recalled Tyler Ladendorf and optioned Dillon Overton to Triple-A Nashville, the team announced.
OAKLAND — Dillon Overton discovered just how little margin for error there is when facing major league hitters, or major league pitchers for that matter.
After Overton was knocked around for eight runs in a 12-6 loss to the Giants on Thursday, the A’s decided to send the rookie left-hander back to Triple-A Nashville. The move hasn’t been announced, but a source confirmed that Overton would be optioned to the minors.
A decision was looming regarding the rotation, as a spot needed to be cleared for veteran Rich Hill to be activated from the disabled list to start Saturday against Pittsburgh. The A’s could call up a fresh relief arm or extra bench player for Friday’s series opener against the Pirates if they choose and then make a separate move Saturday to make room for Hill.
Regardless, Thursday’s three-inning outing showed that Overton could probably use some more seasoning despite the potential the A’s see in the 24-year-old lefty. He won in his major league debut last Saturday against the Angels despite giving up three homers.
But with a fastball that sits in the high 80’s, Overton needs his off-speed stuff to be pinpoint, and that wasn’t the case Thursday. He was done in by a six-run third for the Giants, which started with a double off the bat of pitcher Madison Bumgarner, who hit for himself as the Giants became the first team since 1976 to intentionally waive the right for a DH and let their pitcher hit.
“Usually I can throw the changeup any time, any place,” Overton said. “But tonight I just didn’t really have a good feel for it. It was hard to throw it in there for a strike, and when I did I left it up. You get to this level and if you leave them up, they make you pay for it.”
The Bay Bridge Series was still a grand success for the A’s (35-44), who took three of four from the National League West-leading Giants and have still won seven of their past 10 as they welcome the Pirates for three games starting Friday.
They’re likely to be without one of their top relievers for a while though. An MRI on Sean Doolittle’s left shoulder showed inflammation in his labrum. Doolittle had been placed on the disabled list Thursday afternoon, and though he said the “consensus” is that he doesn’t need surgery or an injection, he will be shut down from throwing for the time being. He’s eligible to come off the 15-day DL coming out of the All-Star break, but it’s unknown if that is a realistic target.
Last season, shoulder issues limited Doolittle to just 12 games. And though he takes encouragement that his current discomfort is centered in a different area — toward the front of his shoulder and not the back like last year — he also admitted to some degree of concern.
“It’s really scary when you hear you have an issue, not just with the shoulder but the labrum especially,” Doolittle said. “But the trainers are optimistic that once we get it calmed down and get that swelling out, we’ll be back in business.”
His health is sure to have some impact on his value as a potential trade chip for the A’s, as he he’s been mentioned around the game as an ideal candidate for teams looking for late-inning relief help.
Regardless, indications are the A’s are in a holding pattern of sorts right now when it comes to deciding whether to “sell.” Their current run of good play, combined with the return of right fielder Josh Reddick and starters Hill and Sean Manaea from the DL lends to their hope of still making a climb up the standings. They’re currently 7 1/2 games out of a Wild Card spot.
To continue their recent winning ways, they’ll need their offense to continue clicking as it has been lately. The A’s have scored at least six runs in in each of the last seven games, and they’ve homered in a season-high nine consecutive games, with Marcus Semien and Yonder Alonso each going deep Thursday.