According to Casey Pratt of CSNBayArea.com, the Athletics have placed outfielder Yoenis Cespedes on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his left hand. Michael Taylor has been recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to replace him on the active roster.
Cespedes was injured last night on an awkward slide into second while attempting to steal a base in the eighth inning. He stayed in the game initially, but was eventually replaced for a pinch-hitter in the 11th inning. The good news is that X-rays and an MRI ruled out any structural damage, so the A’s are hoping that he’ll be ready to return as soon as he’s eligible.
Seth Smith, Chris Young and Taylor could all be in the mix for playing time in left field in the coming days. Coco Crisp was forced to exit last night’s game with a left groin strain, but Pratt hears that could return to the lineup as soon as tomorrow.
Cespedes is hitting .200 (8-for-40) with three home runs and seven RBI through 11 games this season. The Cuban outfielder launched 23 homers in 129 games as a rookie last season.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.