OAKLAND — The day started for Oakland with the A’s putting catcher Josh Phegley on the disabled list.
It ended with a 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh, completing the Pirates’ weekend sweep, and with the likelihood reliever Fernando Rodriguez is heading for the D.L. with a shoulder injury.
“It’s getting old. As soon as we get a couple of guys healthy, we get a couple of guys banged up,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “It’s the nature of the game, but it’s frustrating, very frustrating. It’s just been ridiculous.”
Sunday’s bit of ridiculousness came on Rodriguez’s 1-1 pitch to Jordy Mercer in the eighth inning with Pittsburgh holding a 4-3 lead. Mercer swung and fouled it away, but Vogt was less interested in the pitch result than in the pitcher. Less than halfway to the mound, Vogt signaled to the dugout something was wrong.
“I could tell something was wrong from his body language,” the catcher said. “He called me out and I knew it wasn’t to talk about a pitch. Obviously knowing his body language, I knew something wasn’t right. It’s not good, but let’s hope it’s not serious.”
Rodriguez was still in the trainers’ room as his teammates packed up and headed to the airport for their flight to Minneapolis for a three-game set with the Twins. Manager Bob Melvin said first up for Rodriguez would be an MRI. Given the Fourth of July holiday, it wasn’t immediately clear how quickly an MRI could happen.
“It’s a shoulder strain,” Melvin said. “We’ll know more a little later about how bad it is.”
Melvin said there was “the potential” of a move to the D.L. for Rodriguez. And while the veteran right-hander had been struggling in giving up 12 runs in his last 6.2 innings, the manager said there was no indication before Sunday of any shoulder problem.
“We did some bullpen stuff with him to try and get him right, because he had been struggling,” Melvin said. “It looked like better stuff today but no (shoulder pain before the eighth inning).”
It’s been that kind of year for the 35-47 A’s, who simply cannot keep players healthy. Phegley is on the D.L. for the second time with the same right knee sprain. Rodriguez hasn’t been on the D.L. to this point, but 10 other pitchers have.
“And they’ve all been freak things,” Vogt said. “They happen on one individual pitch or play. They’re trauma-type things. We are getting key pieces hurt just as we get key pieces back.”
The A’s have used the D.L. 18 times already, Rodriguez would be the 19th, and Oakland still has a seven-game road trip through Minnesota and Houston before getting to the All-Star break. By way of comparison, the A’s used 23 D.L. trips all of last season.
It’s getting difficult to keep track of who is wearing an A’s uniform and who isn’t. In patching the roster together, the A’s have made at least one roster move on seven consecutive days and nine of the last 10. And that’s before knowing Rodriguez’s status. Five times in the last six days the A’s have either taken players off the D.L. — Josh Reddick, Sean Manaea and Hill — or put them on — Sean Doolittle and Phegley.
“I can’t speak for other guys, but my injury was very freakish,” said Reddick, who came back this week after missing five weeks with a fractured thumb suffered on a headfirst slide at second base. “I’m not going to point fingers. It may be that this is just one of those freakish years.”
What isn’t freakish is the A’s inability to capitalize with the game on the line. In the sixth and seventh innings alone Sunday the A’s went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. For the game, it was two hits in 12 chances with men at second or third.
“We had runners at third with less than two out,” Melvin said. “In close games like that, we could have had a little different dynamic.”
- After winning six of seven against the Angels and Giants, the A’s have now lost four in a row. That’s part of a season-long pattern of yo-yo baseball, win a bunch, lose a bunch more. Already this year the A’s have followed a 6-0 winning streak by losing nine of 11, gone 5-1 followed by 2-7, gone 5-0 followed by 3-13 and now 6-1 followed by 0-4.
- Starter Daniel Mengden got through the first four innings without allowing a run but gave up four runs in the next two frames to fall to 1-4.
“I stopped being able to execute my pitches,” Mengden said, pointing to an Adam Frazier triple and a bases-loaded Gregory Blanco bases-loaded single.
- Rich Hill was the subject of attention from the scouts of more than half a dozen contending teams, but even with the trade deadline four weeks away, the lefty says he’s unconcerned and doesn’t want to leave.
“I know they’re here, but they’re nothing I can control, so it doesn’t have any impact on me,” Hill said Sunday morning. “My focus is right here, right now. I don’t want to be traded. I’d love to stay here. It’s a good place, the A’s gave me the opportunity and I thank them for that. Things are looking up here.”
- McBride took Phegley’s spot on the roster. The club is hoping Phegley will just need rest and maybe another cortisone shot to get right, but Melvin said the medical crew is “mulling over” the latest MRI on Phegley’s right knee. Melvin said that “the potential for surgery” is still on the table, although the A’s aren’t sure that’s needed now.
- McBride was in the starting lineup, but it was a close call for him because he had to fly in from Nashville and arrived at the park about 90 minutes before game time. It’s his third jump up from Nashville to Oakland this year, and he celebrated with a double and a run scored in two at-bats.
- Melvin said the next time out Hill, who was limited to 85 pitches in his return from the D.L. on Saturday, will not have pitch-limit restrictions.
- Crisp made a throw to the plate in the 10th inning Saturday for an out, something unusual for the center fielder, who doesn’t have a great arm. But Melvin said Crisp’s throwing has been better now that he’s no longer bothered by the neck pain that ruined so much of 2015 for him.