Injuries at the big league level often create opportunities at the minor league level, and that was certainly the case in the Oakland A's system on Friday. Triggered by injuries in their starting rotation, the A's made six roster moves at the major league level and a host of corresponding moves in the minor leagues.
On the big league roster, Oakland placed two-fifths of their starting rotation on the disabled list. Right-hander Tyson Ross landed on the DL a day after leaving his start in the first inning with a strained oblique. Right-hander Brandon McCarthy was a surprise addition to the DL. He pitched seven strong innings versus the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday and there was no indication publicly that he was ailing. As it turned out, he had a stress fracture in his right scapula, an injury that has sidelined him off-and-on the past few years.
Pressed into extended duty by Ross' short outing on Thursday, reliever Trystan Magnuson threw two innings and allowed six runs in the A's 11-1 loss to Minnesota on Thursday. Oakland needed fresh bullpen arms, so Magnuson, who made his big league debut on Tuesday, was the odd-man out. He was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento.
Replacing McCarthy, Ross and Magnuson on the A's roster for now are relievers Joey Devine, Fautino De Los Santos and Jerry Blevins. De Los Santos, when he makes his first appearance for the A's, will be making his major league debut. The hard-throwing Dominican is the final piece of the package the A's received from the Chicago White Sox for Nick Swisher to make the major leagues. De Los Santos had Tommy John surgery in 2008, but he has been healthy and is throwing well this season. In 15.1 innings for Triple-A Sacramento and Double-A Midland, De Los Santos has a 1.76 ERA and 21 strike-outs versus eight walks in 15.1 innings.
Devine is another survivor of Tommy John surgery and he is returning to the big leagues for the first time since 2008. Devine injured his elbow during the spring of 2009 and it was a long road back to full strength for the former Atlanta Braves' first-round pick. He has been outstanding for Sacramento this season, not allowing an earned run in 12.1 innings. Devine has 17 strike-outs and only one walk.
Blevins returns to the A's only a week after being sent down in favor of Magnuson. The lefty struggled in his stint with Sacramento, allowing seven runs in four innings.
Of these three relievers, only one is likely to remain in Oakland past early next week when the A's have to call-up two starters to take the place of Ross and Magnuson. Given their past major league experience, Devine and Blevins would appear to be the front-runners in the competition between the three to stay in the big league bullpen past this weekend.
Replacing Devine, De Los Santos and Blevins in Sacramento were relievers Andrew Carignan and Ben Hornbeck. Carignan joins the River Cats from extended spring training, where he was recovering from a stress fracture in his foot he incurred this spring. He allowed a run on a hit and two walks in his Sacramento debut on Friday night.
Hornbeck jumped to Sacramento from High-A Stockton. The lefty began the year in extended spring training to work on some mechanical issues, but he has pitched well since being sent out. In 6.2 innings for the Ports, he didn't allow a run and he struck-out 11 against only one walk. He struck-out two in a perfect inning for the River Cats on Friday.
Sacramento also made a few unrelated roster moves on Thursday and Friday. Starter Bobby Cramer was placed on the disabled list with a lower back strain and infielder Josh Horton landed on the DL with an undisclosed injury. Replacing them on the roster were starter Graham Godfrey and infielder/catcher Mitch Canham, who were both activated from the DL.
Double-A Midland's roster was relatively untouched on Friday with the exception of one move: the addition of starter Gary Daley, Jr. from the Stockton roster. Daley, Jr. is likely to replace Justin Murray in the Midland rotation. Murray was released earlier this week. Daley, Jr. was signed as a minor league free agent last season after being released by the St. Louis Cardinals. He had two poor relief appearances for Midland last year, but pitched well for the Ports this season in a starting role. In six starts, he had a 3.21 ERA and 22 strike-outs in 33.2 innings. Daley, Jr. has also made two starts for Sacramento this season and he is 1-1 with an 8.00 ERA in nine innings at that level.
Daley, Jr.'s promotion opened a spot in the Stockton Ports' rotation for right-hander A.J. Griffin. Griffin is the second player this week to receive a promotion from Low-A Burlington, joining reliever Chris Mederos on the trip from the Midwest League to the California League. Griffin has been lights-out this season for the Bees. In eight starts, he is 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA and an incredible 46:5 K:BB ratio in 52 innings pitched. Griffin was a 13th-round pick of the A's last season out of the University of San Diego and he was a Northwest League All-Star in 2010. Pitching for the Vancouver Canadians in a relief role, Griffin had a 2.39 ERA and 15 saves for the Canadians.
Replacing Griffin in the Bees' rotation will be right-hander Jonathan Joseph, who joins the team from extended spring training. The Dominican had a 3.05 ERA and 90 strike-outs in 94.1 innings for Low-A Kane County and short-season Vancouver in 2010.