Oakland Athletics lose both Miguel Andujar and Sean Newcomb to injuries

Oakland Athletics players Miguel Andujar and Sean Newcomb will both start the year on the IL
Oakland Athletics v Chicago Cubs
Oakland Athletics v Chicago Cubs / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

The Oakland Athletics received difficult news on Saturday afternoon. As reported by Martin Gallegos of MLB.com, both Miguel Andujar and Sean Newcomb will start the year on the IL.

Andujar reportedly has a torn meniscus in his right knee and will have to undergo surgery to repair the issue. He's expected to miss a minimum of 4-6 weeks, though depending on the rehab process he could be out quite a while longer.

It's a brutal blow for the Athletics offense as Andujar was one of the hottest hitters in camp. He'd gotten off to a scorching 1.110 OPS with no strikeouts in his first 43 plate appearances. He had been playing primarily in a corner outfield spot and was expected to work in a platoon with Seth Brown to start the year.

Andujar's injury will open the door for prospect Lawrence Butler to make a name for himself in the majors. Butler got into 42 games in Oakland last year but had a disappointing stretch at the plate, hitting just .211/.240/.341.

He's been playing much better in spring training and should be able to slot into a corner outfield spot with the ability to back up Ryan Noda at first base.

The A's haven't confirmed Butler will be on the Opening Day roster. If they decide to take a different route, Hoy Park and Max Schuemann seem to be the most likely options. Both have strong defensive versatility and have been playing well this spring, though neither are on the 40-man roster.

Andujar's injury will secure everyday playing time for Esteury Ruiz and JJ Bleday, with the former likely working in a corner spot and the latter in center field. Seth Brown should split playing time with whoever the A's decide to replace Andujar with.

Sean Newcomb is reportedly dealing with irritation in his left knee. The lefty underwent surgery on both knees this offseason so it's possible he's just having trouble getting back to 100% rather than this being a new injury.

Gallegos did not report an expected timeline for Newcomb but hopefully his will be a short-term stint on the IL.

His injury presents a unique problem for the A's. With Scott Alexander already out with a stress reaction in his rib cage, the A's are now down to Kyle Muller as the only left handed option out of the bullpen.

Due to injuries elsewhere on the pitching staff, Muller had been looking like the best choice to work as the A's fifth starter. However, the only other lefties on the 40-man are Alex Wood, JP Sears, Hogan Harris, and Brady Basso.

Wood and Sears will be pitching in the rotation and Basso has just 19 innings above A ball. That leaves Harris and Muller as the only left handed options, assuming the A's aren't adding anyone else to the 40-man.

Muller might lose the spot in the rotation through no fault of his own, as the A's are unlikely to go into the year with no left handed options in the pen.

With Newcomb out, as well as Trevor Gott going down to Tommy John surgery earlier this week, the A's now have two open bullpen spots. We'll need a bit more clarity on Newcomb's timeline but realistically, this is bad news for an A's team that was already lacking with pitching depth. We'll see how they handle the challenge.