OAKLAND — The Oakland Athletics made several roster moves on Saturday, highlighted by right fielder Stephen Piscotty being activated from the injured list.
Piscotty missed all of July after spraining his knee on a slide into second base on June 29, and now he’s back just in time to face his former team, the St. Louis Cardinals, who open a series at the Coliseum on Saturday evening.
The 2019 season has been tough on Piscotty. After posting an .821 OPS with 27 homers last year, those numbers have dropped substantially to a .696 OPS and nine long balls so far this summer. On top of that lackluster performance, and the month-long stint on the IL for his knee, he also had a melanoma removed from his ear in June.
However, Piscotty’s return comes at a particularly convenient moment for the A’s, who just placed center fielder Ramon Laureano on the injured list on Wednesday. He’s not a direct replacement for Laureano, who plays a different position and was also one of the hottest hitters in the league when he got hurt, but at least the A’s are back to only missing one starting outfielder instead of two. In the meantime, Mark Canha did an admirable job covering for the absence of Piscotty in right field, posting a .945 OPS and six homers in 24 games since the beginning of July, and now he can focus on taking over center field while Laureano is out.
To make room on the 25-man roster for Piscotty, infielder Franklin Barreto was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. Barreto spent July with Oakland and played in 16 games during that time, including 13 starts at second base, but he batted just .106 with a whopping 18 strikeouts in 48 plate appearances.
In a separate move on Saturday, the A’s also claimed catcher Dustin Garneau off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels. Oakland designated reliever Ryan Dull for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Garneau, and optioned fellow catcher Beau Taylor to Triple-A to clear space on the 25-man squad.
This is the second tour in Oakland for Garneau, who played 17 games for the A’s in 2017. This season he played 28 games for the Angels, posting a respectable .708 OPS buoyed by a solid .346 OBP. In June he notched a walk-off hit against the A’s, doubling off Lou Trivino in the ninth inning of a 10-9 Angels victory.
One key trait of Garneau is that he’s a right-handed batter. After Oakland lost Josh Phegley to the injured list last week, they were rolling with two lefty-hitting catchers in Taylor and Chris Herrmann, and now they have a righty batter to pair with Herrmann in a more balanced platoon setup.
As for Dull, he allowed 12 earned runs in nine innings this season, and is now three years removed from his excellent 2016 campaign. The right-hander will either be claimed off waivers, released, or end up back in Oakland’s minor league system over the next week.
Also on Saturday, the A’s announced that pitcher Andrew Triggs was released. Triggs, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 2018 due to injury, had been designated for assignment on Wednesday to make room for trade acquisition Tanner Roark. Oakland also optioned starter Daniel Mengden to Triple-A on Friday so that Roark could join the 25-man squad, which he did on Saturday, greeted with a bag of Arby’s by mascot Stomper. Roark found out about his trade to the A’s while in an Arby’s parking lot, on his way driving to Atlanta.
The A’s and Cardinals get going at 6:07 p.m., with Mike Fiers facing Dakota Hudson. Fiers is working on a streak of 13 straight quality starts, and since late April he boasts a 2.46 ERA in 17 outings. The rookie right-hander Hudson has never faced the A’s. The two teams will play just a pair of games, with Sunday serving as the finale.