The A’s were prepared for the worst and hoping for the best, but they were dealt the former Monday evening, when they learned third baseman Scott Sizemore will miss the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Sizemore suffered the injury Saturday afternoon during a series of infield drills and underwent an MRI on Monday morning under the watch of Dr. Douglas Freedberg that revealed the bad news.
Due to swelling, the 27-year-old A’s infielder will have to wait two weeks before being reevaluated to determine when he will undergo surgery.
Sizemore was just getting comfortable with the A’s, who acquired his services midseason last year via a trade with the Tigers. He immediately made the switch from second base to third base to fill the need for Oakland, who watched him progress both offensively and defensively in the months that followed.
At the plate, Sizemore hit .249 with 11 home runs and 52 RBIs in 93 games for the A’s, and only Josh Willingham compiled a higher OPS than Sizemore’s .778 mark.
The A’s are expected to give prospect Josh Donaldson — now stripped of catching gear — a long look at third base in the meantime, but it’s possible they could explore other options through trade or free-agency to fill the void. Adam Rosales, Eric Sogard and Wes Timmons can also provide temporary help at the position.
“I really feel badly for Scott,” manager Bob Melvin said in a release. “He’s worked extremely hard and was ready for a breakout season this year. We were counting on him to provide some much-needed power from the right side of the plate. Now his total focus has to be on a successful surgery and rehabilitation so he can return stronger than ever. In his absence, we feel we have some viable options in Adam Rosales, Eric Sogard and Josh Donaldson. They can all bring something to the position.”
As the A’s await MRI results on Scott Sizemore, who was scheduled to undergo tests on his left knee today around 9:30 a.m. MST, speculation continues on how the club will handle third base in his absence. In no way is anyone already ruling out Sizemore for an extended period of time, but even if the injury proves minor, he’d likely still miss a couple weeks at the very least, and the A’s are under the gun here in Spring Training as they try to prepare for their regular-season games in Japan on March 28 and 29.
For now, Melvin plans to strictly play Josh Donaldson at third base, while Adam Rosales, Eric Sogard and Wes Timmons will see time all over the infield. Rosales and Sogard, he says, “are invaluable” to the team as utility guys and, though Timmons is a natural third baseman, he’s going to have to be flexible based on need. It’s obvious the A’s have plenty outfielders to work with this spring (13 are in camp!), but their depth in the infield isn’t nearly as abundant.
Melvin likes the power potential Donaldson brings to third base and has already been impressed with his defensive work, which was helped along this winter when Donaldson assumed full-time third-base duties in the Dominican.
“So far so good,” Melvin said. “Everybody likes his actions. He worked double-time yesterday and was out there early working today. You can tell he’s got a little different pep in his step right now. Guys sense an opportunity, and I like to see that.”
Less than an hour into their first full-squad workouts of the spring, the A’s suffered what could potentially be a big blow to their infield, as Scott Sizemore went down during an infield drill with an apparent left knee injury and exited the field while applying no weight on it at all. It’s obviously too early to speculate how serious the injury is, but I heard several players mentioning they heard Sizemore’s knee “pop” — which, you can imagine, is never a good thing. We’re waiting to hear more details from manager Bob Melvin shortly.
Oakland doesn’t have nearly as much depth at third base as it does at some other positions, namely first base and outfield, but the names that obviously come to mind when thinking of immediate replacements include Eric Sogard, Adam Rosales, Wes Timmons and Josh Donaldson. Daric Barton has also played third.
Sizemore’s wife, Brooke, recently tweeted that her husband is waiting on MRI results. Hopefully they’re good ones — Sizemore has put in a lot of work at third base since coming over from the Tigers, and just the other day Melvin commented on how good of shape he appeared to be in.
Manny Ramirez made his first appearance in A’s camp today and, after putting on quite the show in the batting cages, spoke to media about the changes he’s made in his life as he readies himself for another shot at baseball.
Here are a handful of picture’s from Manny’s day at Phoenix Muni:
I think most everyone would agree that one of the more intriguing pitchers to watch develop on the A’s roster is Fautino De Los Santos. He’s obviously got a lot of talent and, with continued grooming, he’s sure to position himself as one of the premier relief arms in the league soon enough. His blazing fastball generates plenty talk — and for good reason — and he stands to move up the pecking order in the A’s bullpen given improvements with his control. De Los Santos has been mentioned frequently in talks regarding the closer job, but I’d suspect the A’s start the season with some else — think Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour or Joey Devine — in that role, simply because there’s obvious work left to do and no need to rush him.
Bob Melvin spoke extensively about De Los Santos this morning, noting he’d like to see a bit more consistency from his breaking ball.
“That’s something he’s working on,” Melvin said. “He’s a guy for us now, so this is a big year for him. He goes from a guy that was kind of a surprise last year and worked his way up really without the spotlight on him … and now there’s a little bit more of a target on him and we expect big things out of him.”
As for his fastball, Melvin acknowledged how it will likely dictate his career:
“Typically closers have one special pitch. Rivera has the cutter, Hoffman had the changeup, and for him it’s the exploding fastball. For him to get better, he’s got to work on the other things — quicker to the plate, bring the walks down some, concentrate on getting ahead of hitters, making sure two of the first three pitches are strikes. Where that 1-1 count goes … it’s something we’re going to stress once we lead into games.”
Other notes from Melvin’s early session with reporters:
- Lefty Jordan Norberto is penciled in as a relief option, but Melvin said he could very well work as a starter should he not make the team out of camp. That role may be better suited for Norberto, “so he’s able to ease into some things, because he’s a jumpy, high-strung kid,” Melvin said. Norberto was a starter for the first three years of his Minor League career, before making the transition to a relief role in 2009. Said Melvin: “The trick for him coming out of the bullpen is going to be throwing the ball over the plate early. If you’re coming in and facing one left-handed hitter in a specialist role, you have no room to settle in. I think the fact he has started now, maybe lends itself to him maybe being a long guy for us too, not just a short guy.”
- Melvin said he really has no preference when considering how many right-handers and left-handers to carry in his rotation. The decision, he said, always comes down to performance, meaning he’ll go with five right-handers if those are the best five guys out of camp. That scenario could very well happen, at least at the start of the season before southpaw Dallas Braden returns. With Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon slated for the No. 1 and 2 spots, all the candidates that follow them are also right-handed — except Tommy Milone. But should he not make the cut, the A’s will be deciding from a handful of righties: Graham Godfrey, Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock and Tyson Ross.
Be sure to check the newsstands Friday for ESPN the Magazine. McCarthy and his wife, Amanda, are gracing this week’s cover, as seen below.
MLB.com has confirmed that Manny Ramirez has signed a Minor League deal with the A’s, worth approximately $500,000 — just over the league minimum of $480,000, as expected. More to come on MLB.com soon, but this news now rules out any speculation about a potential Hideki Matsui return or Magglio/Damon signing.
Jerry Blevins and Tyson Ross provided the most exciting action on the field here at Phoenix Muni today — not with a baseball but with an aerobie pro ring. You can call it a fancy frisbee. Nevertheless, it was a rather quiet day, with players simply trickling in and out of the clubhouse for physical exams. The real action begins tomorrow, when pitchers and catchers have their first workouts.
A few tidbits from the day:
-Bob Melvin said it’s a “definite possibility” the club adds to its roster before full camp opens next Saturday. You can presumably count Yoenis Cespedes in that mix, once he acquires a worker’s visa. And Manny Ramirez is still very much an option, as are relievers Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez.
-Lefty Dallas Braden is slated to throw his fifth bullpen on Monday and is still eying a mid-April return to the rotation. Melvin, though, believes the beginning of May is potentially a more realistic option.
-Brett Anderson, down to 225 pounds, is set to throw off the mound for the first time Monday. Like Braden, he’s ahead of schedule and is looking to rejoin the mix in August.
-I caught up with Joey Devine for a few minutes, and he’s entering camp completely healthy. He’ll be part of the competition for the closer’s job, which Melvin says “won’t be ironed out for awhile.” Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour and Fautino De Los Santos are also candidates.
And a note for all Spring Training visitors: The A’s will be holding all of their workouts (before games begin) at Papago Park Sports Complex rather than Phoenix Muni. The two sites are just five minutes from each other.
Here is an up-to-date list on the A’s Spring Training non-roster invitees:
LH Fabio Castro
RH Edgar Gonzalez
RH Sonny Gray
RH Jim Miller
RH Travis Schlichting
RH Evan Scribner
LH Erick Threets
RH Merkin Valdez