Nick Punto Activated from DL

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Nick Punto is activated from the DL. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Punto, middle infielder for the Oakland Athletics, has been activated from the DL. Punto has been on the DL since August 3 after he pulled his right hamstring at third base in a game versus Kansas City.

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The recent struggles the A’s have seen can be partly attributed to his absence. With Punto and Jed Lowrie out of the lineup, weaker players like Alberto Callaspo were given more playing time than normal and more regular players, like Eric Sogard, were forced into positions they don’t specialize. Punto is hitting.247 when facing left handed pitchers and with Callaspo and Sogard’s abysmal numbers against lefties, he will be a welcome sight at the plate.

Although one person shouldn’t have too much bearing on how well the offense produces, in this case, having a good hitter go up against lefties and a much better defender in the infield can only help the A’s as they battle to stay relevant in this year’s playoff race.

The A’s have not announced tonight’s lineup but, considering they are facing a left handed pitcher in John Danks, I would expect to see Punto in the lineup. Having Punto back in the lineup will also give Melvin more options when it comes to late inning substitutions and keep Callaspo, who I am a vocal opponent of, out of the lineup as much as possible.


UPDATE

The A’s lineup has been announced and Punto is not in today’s lineup versus a leftie pitcher. For some reason, management thinks Callaspo, who has cost the team runs on the field and brought little to the table offensively, is the better player for tonight’s game. My theory is that they are easing Punto back into baseball action to insure that he’s at 100% and I asked Susan Slusser about it.

With so few games remaining this season and the window for a playoff spot dramtically closing, I don’t think the A’s have time to ease Punto back into the lineup. If he hits lefties better than any other player at his position, he needs to be in today’s lineup. Callaspo is not helping this team get to the post season.


Update II

As was my suspicion, Susan Slusser is reporting that Punto isn’t quite at 100% which makes him available to pinch hit but not to play second. Here’s something else she reported.

This is what I like to hear. “We’re putting him in because they probably won’t hit to him.” That instills a ton of confidence. But wait, there’s more.

This is starting to bug me! He’s a little better at 2B? Ok, that’s great. Love to see improvement over time. His range isn’t good but he handles routine plays ok? First off, if his range at 2B isn’t good, he’s worthless at 2B. Secondly, if his range isn’t good he better be an all-star on the routine plays, not just OK. I’m sure Melvin didn’t intend for it to read like it does but I also know that he chooses he words carefully. Why are they choosing to throw the platoon out the window on their weakest spot? As I said above, Punto is the better hitter off of lefties. He’s hardly seen today’s pitcher so throw him in there. At worst, he’ll do as good as Callaspo and K four times, at best we’ll get a couple of hits but he is massively more valuable at 2B than Callaspo will ever be, regardless of how OK his routine plays are.

Games aren’t won or loss on routine plays, they are won on the plays that require range. If Callaspo would’ve stopped two of the balls that got into the outfield last week, the A’s would have won that game. Sogard, with his range, would have stopped them. Big picture time is over, guys, this is the stretch that you’d hoped to be set up for and you’re squandering an opportunity for success tonight.

Unless Callaspo goes 3/4 with a HR and 3 RBI, then GO ALBERTO!

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