Oakland A’s shut A.J. Puk down once again

Oft injured pitcher A.J. Puk has been shut down once again by the Oakland A’s, putting his 2020 season in doubt.

The Oakland A’s were slated to get an upgrade to their bullpen this month. A.J. Puk was seemingly on his way back to the majors, throwing simulated games to get ready to head to the majors. He was close enough where his outing on Sunday was considered to be the final step before his return to the majors.

That return will have to wait. Instead of throwing on Sunday as scheduled, Puk was instead shut down again.

This is the third time Puk has been shut down this year. He would have started the season on the Injured List if not for the COVID hiatus, and was shut down again during summer camp.

Puk’s expected return would have been a major boost for the A’s. With four doubleheaders in the next few days, and a shaky rotation, Oakland needed any possible upgrade they could get. Adding another power lefty to the bullpen would have definitely been a help.

Instead, Puk’s latest injury further clouds his future. While he was expected to return to a starting role next season, his inability to remain healthy had put those plans in question. However, Puk does have the stuff to succeed in the bullpen. His high octane fastball and power slider would play up as a reliever.

That may be his destiny. The A’s do have an abundance of possible starting pitchers in the minors, with James Kaprielian and Daulton Jefferies on the cusp of the majors. Meanwhile, the A’s will likely have several relievers depart this offseason, including their closer. If Puk can stay healthy, he can still be a key part of the future, just in a different role.

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But that is the biggest question – can A.J. Puk stay healthy? The Oakland A’s need to figure that out soon.