In the words of the late, great Douglas Adams: Don’t Panic.
During the course of a 162 game season, it’s a known certainty that any given club will face a myriad of injuries through the course of the long year that will test the depth and resiliency of an organization.
With the season a little more than a week old, the Oakland Athletics have already had to stare into the unforgiving eyes of the injury bug. Last Sunday, Gold Glove outfielder Josh Reddick slammed hard into the wall along the right-field line in Houston while chasing a fly ball and the collective Athletics Nation held their breath. As our hirsute hero was helped off the field, all signs pointed towards an injured right arm. Fearing the worst, I consulted via Twitter with A’s beat writer Casey Pratt who felt that Reddick may have been favoring his shoulder after impact. The concern on the broadcast from Glen Kupier and Scott Hatteberg speculated around the possibility that Reddick may have broken his wrist or forearm in the collision.
Thankfully, Reddick proved to be just a tough as he looks and emerged from the scary scene with nothing more than a sprained wrist, much to the relief of everyone involved. Thus far he has missed this weeks series in Anaheim, but there is talk that he is not far from returning. In his absence, the A’s haven’t missed a beat offensively as they have simply pummeled the team formerly know as the California Angels. Furthermore, the Athletics have been able to absorb his omission from the lineup due to the fact that they essentially have five outfielders for four spots if you include the Designated Hitter. With a quality player like Chris Young, able to cover for Josh Reddick or any other outfielder in need of rest or rehabilitation it becomes easier to understand why Billy Beane focused on creating a deep roster during the off-season. Yes, I did watch the game on Tuesday night and it was apparent that Young didn’t quite have a grasp on his new position in right field. On one occasion he simply muffed a catch, and on another he took a roundabout route to a ball hit down the line. The results, were less than encouraging. However, keep in mind that Chris Young has primarily played center field in his career and at this point he is very much a work in progress at the corner positions. Given his athleticism, I am fully confident that he will improve as the season carries on and continue to provide a punch with his bat.
As our own Sean Davis detailed, the A’s will be without the services of second baseman Scott Sizemore for a second year in a row due to a torn ACL. The heartbreaking loss of one of the real quality individuals in the game will certainly sting, but the A’s are not without a Plan B…or Plan C…or maybe a Plan D for that matter. Current fan favorite Eric Sogard, will be given first crack the position but should he fail the A’s will not be without suitable replacements. Old friend Jemile Weeks and perennial prospect Grant Green are readying themselves for a chance to lay claim to the position while biding their time in Triple-A, former Padre Andy Parrino is now up with the team in a utility role to replace Sizemore, and the forgotten man Hiroyuki Nakajima is expected to play some second base in Sacramento as he recovers from injury and grows accustomed to baseball in the states. With Adam Rosales also on the mend, the Athletics should have no shortage of capable middle infielders who can step into a major role as 2013 carries on.
The Athletics received another scare during Sundays game, when starter Brett Anderson inadvertently reached out to field a pair of come backers with his bare hand. The southpaw ended up with a left thumb contusion that warranted x-rays after the game. Escaping his start with nothing more than a minor injury and a bruised ego, Anderson is expected to make his next start this weekend against the Detroit Tigers. Providing depth at the starter position should the A’s have the need to dip into the Sacramento pool include Dan Straily, who is fresh off an 11-strikeout performance against Houston.
Billy Beane has assembled a team that should be able to survive a major injury, and still remain competitive in part to the construction of the deepest roster this team has seen in sometime. Gone are the days of Oakland having to rely on a Matt Carson, J.J. Furmaniak or Ruddy Lugo in the time of crisis.
So take your finger off the panic button, lean back and enjoy the game.