Allen Craig to begin season on disabled list following offseason knee surgery

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There was some optimism last weekend that Allen Craig could potentially make the Cardinals’ roster as a bench player as he continues his rehab from offseason surgery on his right knee, but things have changed over the past few days.

Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Craig will be placed on the 15-day disabled list now that outfielder Shane Robinson was awarded a spot on the Opening Day roster. The decision doesn’t come as a major surprise, as Cardinals manager Mike Matheny admitted on Wednesday that they have “taken a step back” with Craig’s timetable.

It sounds like the smart move, as there’s no need to rush him back in a limited capacity if they can have him back at 100 percent in a couple of weeks. The Cardinals will backdate the disabled list stint, so they could have him back as soon as April 10 if all goes well. Craig was originally expected to miss the first month of the season, so he’s still way ahead of schedule.

Craig has a .290/.339/.503 batting line and an .842 OPS over his first 343 major league plate appearances. The 27-year-old projects to be used in a utility role this season, possibly playing right field against left-handed starters while Carlos Beltran slides over to center and Jon Jay sits.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.

Athletics call up top prospect Franklin Barreto

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The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.

Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.

While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.