UPDATE 11 p.m.: Ramon Laureano MRI results have been included.
OAKLAND — Oakland Athletics closer Liam Hendriks welcomed some special guests to Tuesday’s series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers.
One of Hendriks’ coaches during his youth in Perth, Australia — Adam Scott Tilley — had taken his Perth Little League Intermediate World Series team out of the national bracket, and up to Northern California — Max Baer Park in Livermore, to be specific — to play against teams from all over the world.
After watching the team of 11-13-year olds lose in a 9 a.m. game Tuesday, Hendriks invited the entire team on the field for batting practice, and then to watch as the A’s took on the National League Central. The All-Star closer introduced the team to some of his teammates, and gave them an up-close look at big league ball.
“I never made a juniors team, never made anything like this,” he said.
Hendriks played for the same two clubs — the Wonneroo Giants and the Carine Cats — as comprise the LLIWS team, out of the same field in his hometown.
The tournament organizers brought the participating teams to the game on Saturday, and sat the players in the right field bleachers, but Hendriks wanted to give the 13 kids something more, something he never got.
“As soon as I heard that they had made the trip, and I found out that they were all coming here … I reached out,” Hendriks said. “I wanted to get something done for them. I wanted to take them, be able to go say hello and get them on the field and do all this.”
So far, the Australian team has yet to win a game against Latin America, Mexico and Puerto Rico, but they play again on Thursday at noon at Max Baer Field. The tournament also includes the Czech Republic and Canada.
“As a kid coming up, you know the big leaguers, you know the guys who are playing over here,” Hendriks said. “Just being able to have a chance to get them out on the field, to hang out for a little bit, it’s big for me. Not only are they from my home state, they’re from my home club. You need to take care of the guys as much as you can. Nurture their spirit, and hopefully, they stick with baseball and we can make Australian baseball better.”
Ramon Laureano was held out of his second straight game on Tuesday, and an MRI has revealed a stress reaction in his right shin. He will be shut down and will go on the injured list, manager Bob Melvin said in the postgame press conference. Stress reactions usually take about four weeks to clear up, and Melvin did not have a definitive timetable for Laureano’s return.
The second-year center fielder had been one of Oakland’s hottest hitters, going 29-for-74 (.392) in the month of July with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in 22 games. In his first full season in the Major Leagues, Laureano is hitting .284 with 12 stolen bases, 21 home runs and 58 RBIs.
Stephen Piscotty will start the next three games for Triple-A Las Vegas as he rehabs from a right knee strain suffered on June 29 in Anaheim. He’s played two games thus far for the Aviators — one in the field for seven innings, and one at designated hitter — and has gone 3-for-11 with a homerand two RBIs. He’ll play at least one of the next three at designated hitter, and the other two in the field for all nine innings.
Marco Estrada (lumbar strain) pitched two innings on Tuesday for Single-A Stockton. The one-time A’s starter allowed just one hit — a leadoff double by Santa Rosa-Maria Carillo grad Jake Scheiner in the second — and struck out one on 20 pitches. He needed just nine pitches (five strikes) in his first frame, retiring the side in order.
“We don’t feel like we have to build him up to seven innings,” Melvin said. “Whatever we can get out of him from this point on in the season, you always want some starting pitching depth, and he’s the type of veteran guy who probably doesn’t need some of the reps that some other guys do.”
Sean Manaea now officially has one more rehab start left, before he butts up against the 30-day maximum for rehabbing pitchers to stay in the minor leagues. On Tuesday, he threw 70 pitches in six innings (he was scheduled to throw 90), striking out eight and allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits while striking out eight. Melvin had said that results would matter during Manaea’s two final starts, and he’s certainly rounding into form.
Josh Phegley said he’s healthy enough to hit with the left thumb contusion he suffered on Sunday, but it’s still unknown if he can take the game-long pounding on that digit if he’s behind the plate.
Phegley was once among AL catching leaders in multiple offensive categories, but he’s come back to earth, slashing .243/.283/.427 with a .194 batting average since the end of June with 14 RBIs in 37 games. That’s still better than what Chris Herrmann — who has started the last three games — has been doing lately. After hitting .300 over his first six games off the injured list, he’s 4-for-23 with just one RBI.