OAKLAND — Marco Estrada is tired of simply watching.
After going on the injured list with persistent back issues on April 17, the 36-year old right-hander is hoping to throw a bullpen session as soon as Tuesday, he told The Examiner before Sunday’s series finale against the Chicago White Sox.
When general manager David Forst spoke about the acquisition of starter Homer Bailey, though,he mentioned every injured potential starter except for Estrada. Whatever the former All-Star can provide at this point would be a bonus, and it seems as though Oakland isn’t counting on him returning to help with a run to the postseason.
“I’m going to try pitching through this,” Estrada said. “I’ll throw another bullpen or two and try and make a rehab start somewhere and see how that goes. I basically won’t really know until I get back out there. I don’t know if it’s improving or not, but I’m tired of waiting.”
Estrada — who officially has a lumbar strain — had battled back problems for much of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays. Oakland knew that he could miss time when they signed him to a one-year deal this offseason, and indeed, the issues flared up again in spring training, finally sidelining him after five starts.
His injury — which he’s dealt with in one form or another since last July — required an ablation procedure in late April to desensitize the nerves and relieve some pain, but he still feels some discomfort.
Estrada has thrown some flat-ground sessions, and his goal now is to just manage the pain. If he can return to anything near his All-Star form of 2016 (when he had an ERA of 3.48), he’d be an asset down the stretch.
In his first five starts for the A’s, Estrada was 0-2 with a 6.85 ERA and averaged just over four innings per start, striking out only 11 and walking eight in 23 2/3 innings. Estrada has slid further and further since his All-Star season, with ERAs of 4.98 and 5.64 in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Rehabbing pitchers moving along: Sean Manaea (shoulder) made his second rehab start on Saturday for the Stockton Ports, throwing 53 pitches (36 strikes) in 2 1/3 innings against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. He allowed five runs (all earned) on three hits, with one homer, two walks and four strikeouts.
“The velo is starting to pick up a little bit,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “I think he was mid-80s, maybe lower-80s [in his first start], and I think he was around 90, so I think that’s something that we’re looking for, more than results. It’s once you get to five or six innings that maybe we look more so toward the result … I think it went pretty well.”
Manaea felt good, threw all his pitches and had a good feel for his slider.
Jharel Cotton, one of Oakland’s most exciting young arms, is working his way into the bullpen for the stretch run (though he will be a starter next spring), and he made his second rehab outing on Saturday, as well (after his previous rehab was drailed by hamstring surgery).
He threw 1 2/3 innings for Triple-A Las Vegas against Salt Lake, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks, striking out three. He threw 37 pitches, 22 of which were strikes — similar to his 31/20 numbers in two innings on July 9.
“He’s just kind of getting his feet wet, and learn kind of a new role, as far as relieving,” Melvin said. “I think in both cases, it’s next step up.”
Treinen’s troubles: On Sunday morning, Melvin had intended to have a sit down with his erstwhile closer Blake Treinen, who gave up the job to Liam Hendriks when he went on the injured list with a mild rotator cuff strain. Treinen beat him to the punch.
“He came into my office and broached all the stuff that I was going to talk to him about,” Melvin said.
After posting one of the greatest seasons by a reliever in Major League history, with a 0.78 ERA, 38 saves and 100 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings last year, Treinen has had quite a crash back to earth, posting a 2-3 record with a 4.54 ERA and 24 walks to 37 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings.
In Saturday’s 15-2 win over the Chicago White Sox, Treinen came on in the seventh and allowed two runs on two hits and a walk. Melvin said that kind of situation wasn’t ideal to get him work. He’s still confident, but at this point, command seems to be the issue.
“He’s positive, he’s trying to remain positive, still getting good sink, he’s still throwing hard,” Melvin said. “It’s just about getting some results. We’re still not quite there yet with him, but I think, mentally, he’s in a good place right now, and we just need to get a couple good outings in a row from him.”