MESA, Ariz. – A’s outfielder Sam Fuld is expected to miss at least three weeks with a moderately sprained left shoulder, taking him out of the equation for the Opening Night roster.
Fuld said he knew his shoulder was hurt as soon as he released a throw home in Saturday’s game against Cincinnati. The A’s received MRI results Sunday.
“I’ve been feeling good, that’s part of the frustration here,” Fuld said after a 6-2 loss to the White Sox. “I feel good about some of the things I’ve been doing offensively, so you hate to kill that momentum. It’s never a good time to be hurt, but given that I’ve been playing well, it makes it particularly hard.”
Fuld was hitting .417 in 10 Cactus League games. Still, he appeared to face a steep challenge to crack Oakland’s season-opening 25-man roster. The A’s will carry four outfielders for certain – Billy Burns, Coco Crisp, Khris Davis and Josh Reddick – plus Chris Coghlan and in all likelihood Mark Canha. Both of them can also play the outfield.
Fuld is out of minor league options, so the A’s were facing a tough roster decision with him. Now they can at least buy time by putting him on the 15-day disabled list to begin the regular season and continue to evaluate the rest of their roster in the interim.
Asked if his “bubble” status was providing extra motivation, Fuld said he tries to approach every season the same regardless of his job security. But after hitting .197 last season, he was finding success with some adjustments he’s made in the batter’s box.
“Given the year I had last year, I did make an effort to make some changes, step out of my comfort zone with my swing,” he said. “It’s nice to see some of those adjustments pay dividends. Granted, in a small sample.”
Fuld will leave camp sometime in the next few days to be with his wife, Sarah, who is about to deliver their fourth child.
PROSPECT WATCH: Shortstop Franklin Barreto, the A’s top prospect, was among seven players sent to the minors after the game. Also going down were first baseman Matt Olson and infielder Chad Pinder – both among Oakland’s Top 10 prospects – right-handers Ryan Brasier, Angel Castro and Eduard Santos and catcher Bryan Anderson.
Barreto, who didn’t celebrate his 20th birthday until after camp began, made a strong impression on manager Bob Melvin. He hit just .217 in 15 games but homered three times and made a couple of highlight-reel defensive plays. He’s expected to begin the season with Double-A Midland. Olson hit just .130 in exhibition play but is considered the A’s top power-hitting prospect and has shown to be a capable corner outfielder as well as first baseman. Pinder hit .235 in his first Major League camp and could see time at both middle infield spots this season. He and Olson are likely to start the season with Triple-A Nashville.
Another touted prospect, third baseman Matt Chapman, remains in camp. He doubled in his only plate appearance Sunday.
NOTEWORTHY: Speaking of top prospects, Sean Manaea struck out seven over 3 2/3 innings in the start against the White Sox. He gave up Jerry Sands’ two-run homer in the first, but he made some adjustments with the grip on his slider and changeup and fared better after the first, allowing just the two runs along with three hits and two walks.
Melvin said Manaea was having trouble busting righties inside but found a way to get outs anyway. From that standpoint, he and Manaea were happy with the in-game adjustments.
“It’s very difficult for a young pitcher to make adjustments like that and think their way through games when they haven’t be at this level before and are trying to impress,” Melvin said. “It’s good to see.”
HEALTH UPDATE: Sean Doolittle (strained triceps) felt good after throwing off flat ground and is tentatively set to throw off the mound Monday.