The A’s are piling up so many injuries, manager Bob Melvin asked his trainer to take questions from reporters before Tuesday’s game. With seven players on the disabled list, Melvin is barraged with daily-status queries that even he’s not always capable of answering.
Before the season’s first pitch, the A’s knew they’d need to overcome a few key injuries to be competitive: Brett Anderson is recovering from Tommy John surgery, Dallas Braden is still healing from last May’s shoulder surgery and third baseman Scott Sizemore blew out an ACL in spring training. In April, the team learned that reliever Joey Devine would require his second Tommy John surgery in three years and then rookie slugger Yoenis Cespedes was put on the shelf in early May with a muscle strain in the back of his left hand. A heavy blow was delivered Sunday when Brandon McCarthy, the only returning starter from last year’s rotation, re-aggravated a shoulder injury and was placed on the 15-day DL.
Brandon Inge (groin) was also put on the DL soon after joining the club April 30 and Coco Crisp was out for almost three weeks this month because of an inner ear infection. Jemile Weeks (ankle), Kurt Suzuki (thumb) and Kila Ka’aihue (hamstring) have also missed games to nurse day-to-day injuries.
“I don’t think we’ve used that as an excuse,” Melvin said. “You just have to deal with it.”
Despite the setbacks, the A’s are only one game under .500 (22-23) heading into this weekend’s three-game home series with the New York Yankees and they’ve held a grip on second place in the AL West for 24 straight days.
“We don’t give in,” reliever Grant Balfour said. “With all the injuries — that’s sometimes tough — but we’ve overcome a lot of obstacles.”
Inge said injuries often hurt team morale, but he’s been amazed with his new club’s resiliency.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “You get that many guys going down at one time, you have a Triple-A playing, but we’re still winning ball games.”
Melvin said the injury bug hasn’t dampened the mood in the clubhouse because it’s given a lot of young players a chance to contribute.
“The guys that are filling in are excited about the fact that they get the opportunity to play,” he said, adding: “It’s their time to shine.”
The A’s lineup should eventually be bolstered by the return of Cespedes and Inge and the arrival of Manny Ramirez, which could come as early as next week. Balfour said confronting adversity will likely make this young team stronger in the dog days of summer.
“No matter what you do in life, when you go through some tough times, you seem better off for it in the long run,” he said.