Oakland Athletics: Danny Valencia Returns

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Apr 20, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Oakland Athletics third baseman Danny Valencia (26) is tagged out by New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann (34) while trying to score on a fly ball by Oakland Athletics first baseman Yonder Alonso (not pictured) during the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 20, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Oakland Athletics third baseman Danny Valencia (26) is tagged out by New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann (34) while trying to score on a fly ball by Oakland Athletics first baseman Yonder Alonso (not pictured) during the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oakland Athletics infielder Danny Valencia activated from the disabled list; utility man Tyler Ladendorf optioned to Triple-A Nashville.

Ahead of Friday’s game in Baltimore, third baseman Danny Valencia was activated from the Oakland Athletics‘ 15-day disabled list. In a corresponding roster move, utility man Tyler Ladendorf was sent back to Triple-A Nashville.

Danny Valencia played 14 games with the A’s, amassing 55 plate appearances before being placed on the DL with a hamstring strain.

Valencia’s injury occurred on a play at the plate during an April 20 game against the New York Yankees. Outfielder Aaron Hicks made a superb throw to home plate, where catcher Brian McCann tagged out Valencia as he tried to slide in to home and score.

The throw by Hicks became a viral sensation, but the A’s walked away from the game without their cleanup hitter and everyday third baseman. In case you missed it, take a look at this incredible throw:

Prior to the injury, Valencia was batting .294/.345/.353, with a pair of RBIs and five runs scored. Despite hitting the ball hard, he had no home runs to show for it. Defensively, the former utility man had already made four errors at third base, so he will need to tighten up his play in the field.

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During his stint with the A’s, Ladendorf appeared in six games, but only had two plate appearances. He did not have a hit, although he swiped a base and scored a run.

Ladendorf was batting .240/.269/.360 with Triple-A Nashville prior to his callup. He had hit one home run in 54 plate appearances, with no stolen bases. Ladendorf wasn’t exactly setting Triple-A pitching on fire, and his stint with the A’s was more one of necessity than one in which they were interested in seeing what he could do at the major league level.

Valencia’s return means that Chris Coghlan will be relieved from his duties as the replacement third baseman, giving the Athletics much more flexibility in the infield. Jed Lowrie, who has struggled defensively, will be able to act as the designated hitter more often, as Coghlan can spell him at second base.

The Oakland Athletics should be thrilled to see Valencia’s bat back in the lineup as well. After the series against the Yankees in which Valencia was injured, the A’s have been on a downward trajectory. They are 3-7 in their last ten games, and have lost their last four in a row. Heading into the series against the Toronto Blue Jays – their first set without Valencia – the A’s were above .500. Their record now stands at 13-16.

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Valencia’s power and the added defensive flexibility should mean the Athletics are back in business. It’s not too late for them to stay competitive: although they’ve dropped to fourth place in the AL West, they’re only two games behind the second-place Texas Rangers, and 4.5 games back from the front-running Seattle Mariners.

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