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Two players expected to be on the Oakland A’s Opening Day roster, starting pitcher Paul Blackburn and catcher Manny Piña, will instead start the season on the injured list, manager Mark Kotsay said Friday.
Piña, expected to start the season as Shea Langeliers’ backup, was fitted with a brace after inflammation was discovered in his left wrist, the same one he had surgery on last May while with the Atlanta Braves. Piña began to feel discomfort during a game at the A’s minor league complex Monday.
Candidates to take Piña’s spot on the season-opening roster are Yohel Pozo, Kyle McCann, and Tyler Soderstrom.
Kotsay said Blackburn, an Antioch native and Heritage High School graduate, has a fingernail avulsion on his right middle finger and is unable to grip a baseball right now.
In two Cactus League appearances, Blackburn had a 16.62 ERA in 4 1/3 innings, with his last outing coming on March 10. He played catch on Tuesday with no issue, but it is unclear when he’ll throw off a mound again.
Blackburn was a candidate to be the A’s starter on Opening Night. The good news for the A’s is that James Kaprielian might be on track to start the season in the rotation.
Kaprielian had another strong outing Friday, as he allowed five hits and one earned run over 4 1/3 innings as the A’s beat the Giants 7-2 in Mesa.
Kaprielian struck out four and did not allow a walk, and now has nine strikeouts and a 1.59 ERA in 5 2/3 innings in Cactus League play.
“It’s pretty unfortunate,” Kaprielian told mlb.com regarding the Blackburn news. “He’s going to be fine. The rest of us just have to stay ready. We are going to take pride in being a family as a staff and be comfortable passing the ball to the next guy.”
Kaprielian continued to pitch well after he had off-season surgery to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder.
“(Kaprielian) threw strikes, pounded the zone,” Kotsay told mlb.com. “All good signs. Today was a little more stress to the shoulder. We’ll see how he recovers. At this point, if we can keep pushing, keep getting him built up, he should have the opportunity to open with us.”
Shintaro Fujinami and Drew Rucinski are candidates to be the A’s starter on Opening Day.
“Whoever gets that ball that day, we are going to go out and support him,” Kaprielian said
Seth Brown, Aledmys Díaz, Jace Peterson, Conner Capel, and Brent Rooker each had two hits for the A’s, who open the season at home on March 30 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Two Oakland A’s expected to be on Opening Day roster will start season on IL
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