Jesse Hahn was with the A’s on Friday as they reconvened after the four-day All-Star break, but it will be a while longer before Hahn rejoins the starting rotation.
Hahn said he expects to be shut down for at least a month to rest a right forearm strain. The A’s put the right-hander on the disabled list on July 6, and Hahn said he visited a doctor in Los Angeles during the break for a second opinion that confirmed inflammation.
“The only thing that’s really going to help right now is rest,” Hahn said.
The good news, Hahn said, is the re-examination showed no structural damage in his elbow. Hahn missed the 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery but said doctors told him this time his ulnar collateral ligament is intact.
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“That took a lot of weight off my shoulders,” Hahn said.
Manager Bob Melvin said Hahn is scheduled to have a platelet-rich plasma injection on Tuesday and that there’s “really no timetable” for Hahn’s return at this point. The right-hander is 6-6 with a 3.35 ERA this season. Over his last six starts, he went 4-1, allowing 11 earned runs in 37 innings. Still, Hahn said discomfort affected him on certain pitches.
Melvin indicated the A’s will not rush Hahn’s recovery.
“We want to be awfully careful with a guy who’s had Tommy John before,” Melvin said. “I guess the encouraging news was, he was continuing to pitch; he wanted to continue to pitch. But after the doctors took a look at him, it’s prudent that we shut him down here for a while.”
Because of an off day Monday, the A’s can get by without a fifth starter until July 25. The likely candidate to take Hahn’s spot at that point is right-hander Chris Bassitt, who has made multiple spot starts this season and impressed the A’s recently with improved command.
Melvin said he couldn’t guarantee that Bassitt, currently in Triple A, will be called back up, but he’s “at the top of the list.”
▪ Outfielder Coco Crisp has started swinging a bat and could start ramping up baseball activities next week, with the possibility of taking live batting practice soon. Crisp has been on the DL since May 20 with a neck strain and also recently dealt with kidney stones.
Melvin said a timetable for Crisp “depends how he feels once he starts baseball activity again. (But) he’s at the point where his neck feels good enough to start down this path.”
The A’s still hope to have Sean Doolittle back this season, though it’s unclear in what role Doolittle would pitch. The left-hander has started playing catch out to 90 feet but is still far from returning from a left shoulder strain that landed him on the DL on May 28.
“We’d like to get him back at some point,” Melvin said. “Just getting him healthy and getting him in games again we feel like would help us. … (We would have to) see where he’s at, as far as his velocity, and how often we could use him.”
Reliever and switch pitcher Pat Venditte, meanwhile, threw a bullpen session Sunday and is scheduled for another Tuesday, in which he’ll throw 30 pitches with his right arm and 20 with his left. The right shoulder strain landed Venditte on the DL on June 11.
▪ The A’s are entering what looks like a pivotal two-week stretch before the July 31 trade deadline. The A’s have the best record in the A.L. since May 23 at 27-20. Yet they still have the league’s worst overall record at 41-50. Whether they can make a move over the next two weeks could determine whether the front office decides to keep this team intact going into the season’s final two months.
In 2012, the A’s were nine games out of first place coming out of the All-Star break and memorably stormed back in the second half to win the division. Melvin said that “goes to show you anything can happen in the second half, and that’s the way we have to look at it (this year).”
Melvin said the A’s are not paying attention to trade scenarios that have surfaced about some of their current players, most notably Ben Zobrist and Scott Kazmir:
“That’s the way it is in baseball nowadays,” Melvin said. “(There is) a lot of parity in the American League; a lot of teams are real close right now. So our focus is on winning games.”
▪ The timing of the break allows the A’s to begin the second half just like they ended the first: With Sonny Gray on the mound. Here’s the A’s lineup behind him, facing Twins right-hander Ervin Santana:
And the Twins’ lineup against Gray: