Oakland Athletics: Reddick Injury Overshadows Loss to Yankees

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In Oakland Athletics loss to Yankees, the big news isn’t the score, but the injury to star outfielder Josh Reddick.

The Oakland Athletics lost 4-1 to the New York Yankees. The score could have been a lot worse, but the Yankees had a series of misadventures on the base paths. The big news, however, was that the overall outcome of the game was pretty disastrous: a freak injury to Josh Reddick cast a pall of gloom over the Coliseum. Reddick has a “slight fracture” of his left thumb, but one that will keep him out of action for 4-6 weeks.

You could say that there were mixed reviews on the A’s starting pitcher. Kendall Graveman was upbeat in a post game interview, and manager Bob Melvin saw a lot of encouraging signs, but personally, I am not so encouraged. Graveman’s sinker was working better, but he was still leaving pitches up. Those pitches were getting hit very hard. He did not have one single “three up, three down” clean inning. In the sixth, Graveman gave up three consecutive singles and then a double. The Yankees only managed to score one run due to utterly incompetent base running.

Hindsight is 20/20, but it might have been better if the Yankees had scored three or four runs in the sixth. Then Reddick would have been content to stay at first base. Down 2-1, Reddick tried to steal second and got kicked in the head and the hand. It was a strange, quirky injury, but one that will cost the A’s dearly.

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However, the A’s will have to re-group. Chris Coghlan is in an difficult position. He came to the Oakland A’s expecting to play once in a while as a backup infielder. Then Danny Valencia hurt his hamstring, and Coghlan was playing every day. Coglan is batting .165 in part because he is still trying to learn American League pitchers. Just as Valencia got better, Jed Lowrie got hurt and, once again, Coghlan was pressed into every day service. Once Lowrie comes back, Coghlan might find himself in right field on a regular basis, and filling Reddick’s shoes will be a tall order. As Captain Obvious might say, it would be nice if he could hit a little better than .165 going forward.

With Reddick out 4-6 weeks, A’s fans might see Khris Davis in left, Billy Burns in right and Coco Crisp in center – as well as more designated hitter at-bats for Billy Butler. Honestly, can Josh Phegley play right field? There does not appear to be a lot of help at Triple-A Nashville. Jake Smolinski has major league experience, but he’s only hitting .248, and he bats right-handed. Reddick is the A’s best player, and he is impossible to replace from within the A’s system.

I do not want to be crass, or sound mercenary, but Reddick could be a free agent when the season is over. In all honesty, I would personally like to see the A’s sign both Josh Reddick and Sonny Gray to big, long-term contracts. Currently, Reddick is earning $6 million a year. The A’s could bump that up to $18 million per year and still have the lowest payroll in the division. Then you see a freak injury like this one, and you have to wonder about signing a player to a four-year, $72 milion dollar contract. You also see enormously talented young pitchers like Jarrod Parker, who end up needing Tommy John surgery, and you have to wonder if it makes sense to make a long-term commitment to Sonny Gray.

It’s not my money, and I sort of want to say, “Sell the team if you can not afford to sign the best players.” But after watching Reddick go down on a simple slide into second, it is easy to understand why the owners are careful to avoid long term contracts.

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The Oakland Athletics are a resilient team that is learning to overcome adversity. When Reddick comes back in early July, it will be like picking up a key player right before the trade deadline. I expect this team to find a way to compete while Reddick recovers.

It was a tough night for the A’s, but it could have been worse.  It could have been raining.

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