OAKLAND — As Ramon Laureano sat down at his locker, Rickey Henderson — sitting 10 feet away and playing cards — fired a quick query his way: “You playing today?”
“I want to,” Laureano said.
“That’s what I told you,” a satisfied Henderson said to nobody in particular.
The Oakland Athletics center fielder still isn’t ready to come off the disabled list thanks to a stress reaction in his right shin. After running for the first time since being shut down on July 31, though, he felt no pain, and could give the A’s a boost down the stretch as they pursue the second American League wild card.
“Everything felt fine,” Laureano said. “I want to play right now.”
Laureano ran from the left field foul line to center field ten times before Wednesday’s game, going at about 80% speed. The 25-year-old has yet to make hard turns running the bases but said he didn’t “think it would be a big deal.” Next up for Laureano, according to manager Bob Melvin, is to get live at-bats in Class-A Stockton against Daniel Gossett – recovering from Tommy John surgery – on Friday.
“Restless is putting it mildly,” Melvin said of his outfielder’s approach to rehab. “Obviously we have to be careful because we don’t want any setbacks.”
Before his injury, Laureano was in the midst of a breakout year at the plate, batting .284 with a .853 OPS and 21 home runs – a mark that, at the time he landed on the IL, ranked third among AL center fielders behind only Mike Trout and George Springer. He also continued to boast one of the strongest arms in all of baseball, and is still tied for fifth in the majors with eight outfield assists despite missing nearly a month.
In his absence, Mark Canha has been a capable replacement, enjoying a career year with 19 homers and a .906 OPS. In the outfield, where Oakland stood to miss Laureano the most, Canha has consistently flashed the leather, playing the expansive Coliseum center field like a seasoned veteran.
“Mark is doing a terrific job with it,” Melvin said. “I think it starts with embracing the type of role he’s had. You look at the confidence he has now. We’re lucky to have him.”
Stephen Piscotty came out of Tuesday night’s game against the Yankees in the ninth inning with ankle soreness. He was replaced with another player who’s been nicked up in Chad Pinder, who’s dealing with hamstring soreness.
“It’s that time of year where you’re a little banged up,” Melvin said, “If you get a chance to play, you still go out there.”