Khris Davis has not played a game since May 21, he hasn’t homered since sending two out of Seattle’s T-Mobile Park on May 13.
Still, the Athletics, without the front man of their offense, have clawed their way back toward the top of the AL West standings, riding a recently deceased 10-game winning streak to withing 7-1/2 games of the division-leading Astros.
Even in the midst of this success, the Oakland offense was missing Davis. At least that is what Matt Chapman told MLB.com’s Martin Gallegos:
“We still don’t even have KD back and I want it to go on record that we really need him back. He’s our best player. We still need that guy.”
Chapman, the A’s and manager Bob Melvin got some hopeful news on that front Wednesday. One day after taking dry swings and felling no ill-effects, Davis, baseball’s 2018 home run king, hit off a tee. There is no clear timetable for the slugging DH’s return, but given the latest development, Melvin is hopeful that Davis will be able to return when his time on the 10-day Injured List expires Saturday:
“It all depends on how he feels, whether we feel like we need to give him a couple live at-bats, whether it’s velocity off the machine, we’ll make that determination. I know that he would probably want to (come back Saturday) if he felt great. He’s a pretty important guy to us so we’ll see how he feels leading up to that.”
Davis suffered what was original called a hip contusion, and later revised to an oblique injury, when he collided with the short wall in foul territory of Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.
He toughed through the pain sporadically, appearing in eight games between May 5, the date of the injury, and May 21, when he was placed on the IL. And while the power was minimal, Davis batted .346 (9-for-26).
In other injury-related news
Jharel Cotton, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, made his third and by far best minor league appearance Tuesday, tossing two scoreless, hitless innings of relief for Advanced-A Stockton.
Cotton, who entered the 2017 seasons with top-of-the-rotation expectations, struggled through his first full big league season then suffered a UCL tear during Spring Training in 2018.
Now, when he does return to the big club, Melvin expects, at least in the short term, that his impact will be made out of a relief role:
“That’s probably the way we’re going to proceed with him this year: bullpen. That’s the way he did it yesterday. If we’re going to get something out of him innings-wise a year after Tommy John, it’s going to be difficult to get him “X” number of starts. And he’s pitched out of the bullpen before.”
Sean Manaea threw a 40-pitch bullpen session prior to Wednesday’s game. Included in the work was a 20-pitch “inning,” a break and another 20-pitch inning. Said Melvin:
“He threw all his pitches, increased the intensity towards the end. He fell really good about it.”
The Oakland skipper said all involved were “encouraged” to see the ace throw all his pitches and recover from a cool down so effectively. Still, Melvin said the team is not anywhere the point of hashing out a timetable:
“We’re not even looking at sending him out at this point. He’ll probably throw multiple (bullpen) sessions like (Wednesday’s).”