ORACLE PARK — The Oakland Athletics could receive a boost soon in their pursuit of the second American League wild card – two games behind the Tampa Bay Rays – as Sean Manaea nears a major league return.
The left-hander pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball with 10 strikeouts for Triple-A Las Vegas in Omaha on Tuesday afternoon, continuing to rehab from a shoulder surgery that has kept him out since September of last season.
Manaea’s 82-pitch performance is reassuring for the A’s, who briefly shut their ace down last week as he dealt with side soreness.
Though Oakland manager Bob Melvin said that the organization has not yet decided what the next step is for Manaea, it is likely that the 27-year-old will make one more rehab start before potentially returning to the big league roster.
While the A’s await Manaea’s return, their attention will turn to the San Francisco Giants in the road opener of the Bay Bridge Series.
“I always think there’s some significance to it,” Melvin said of the series. “All the Bay Area fans are watching this. I think the deeper in the season you go, the more attention there is to who’s in the playoffs and both these teams are.”
Melvin also called his counterpart, Giants manager Bruce Bochy, “one of the best, if not the best, in the game” and said that he is tired of “taking a beating” from him.
An added layer for the A’s in the first game of the four-game set – two at Oracle Park and two at Oakland Coliseum – will be the team’s reunion with Giants catcher Stephen Vogt, who played with Oakland for four and a half seasons from 2013-2017 before being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Melvin said that he kept in touch with Vogt as he recovered from right shoulder surgery in Milwaukee and addressed the former Oakland All-Star’s production with San Francisco this season.
“I hope he takes a couple days off here,” Melvin joked. “It’s pretty remarkable because he had a shoulder issue that looked like he might not play again. To work as hard as he did and to get back, it’s impressive to watch.”
Vogt will not get the start on Tuesday but will likely see action in one of the other three games against the A’s.
As far as Melvin’s own roster is concerned, the A’s are set to call up infielder Corban Joseph from Triple-A Las Vegas for Wednesday’s game to add a left-handed bat to the second base platoon of right-handed Chad Pinder and switch-hitting Jurickson Profar.
The 30-year-old Joseph has torn up the Pacific Coast League in his eleventh minor league season, slashing .371/.421/.585 while accruing 52 extra-base hits and 73 RBIs.
Melvin declined to comment on the move as it is not yet and official transaction and said that he is focused on the team’s big league roster.
Meanwhile, Ramon Laureano – sidelined with a stress reaction in his right shin – is doing “everything but running” as team doctors continue to evaluate the center fielder to determine whether the team should shut him down for the rest of the season. Melvin maintained that there is still no timetable for Laureano’s possible return.