A's Lose Piazza, Add Snelling

The injury-ravaged Oakland A's took another body blow on Wednesday when clean-up hitter Mike Piazza injured his shoulder. Looking for more offense, the A's traded the newly acquired Ryan Langerhans to Washington for Chris Snelling.

Just when you think the training room can't possibly get any more crowded for the A's, another injury pops up.

In Wednesday's 6-4 defeat to the Boston Red Sox, designated hitter Mike Piazza suffered a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder while running the bases.

He's estimated to miss the next four to six weeks.

"Obviously, it's not good for us, but we'll do our best to keep fighting every day," manager Bob Geren said.

It's the latest of a rash of injuries the A's have been hit with. They already have right-handers Rich Harden and Esteban Loaiza on the disabled list, along with outfielders Milton Bradley and Bobby Kielty (though Bradley is expected back May 8). That's not to mention outfielder Mark Kotsay, who is on the 60-day DL while recovering from back surgery.

The A's also announced after Wednesday's game that they had traded outfielder Ryan Langerhans to the Washington Nationals for fellow outfielder Chris Snelling.

Langerhans had just been acquired Sunday from Atlanta for a player to be named or cash. He started each of the past two games in center field for the A's.

Snelling is a player the A's have had their eyes on for some time. He was a top prospect in the Seattle Mariners organization for the past few years before being traded to Washington this off-season in the Jose Vidro trade. Snelling is a career .312 hitter in the minor leagues, and, at 25 years old, appears to be someone with upside.

The Australian's career has been sidetracked by numerous injuries, mostly to his knees. He was struggling for the Nationals this season, batting only .204 with one homer in 24 games (49 at-bats). He did have a .361 on-base percentage and should be an upgrade over Langerhans, who was hitting .068 when he arrived in Oakland and went hitless in two games with the A's.

Snelling is expected to join the A's in Tampa for Friday's game. The A's will also have to place Piazza on the DL and add another player to the roster. That player has yet to be determined.

Hiram Bocachica would appear to be a top candidate, but he can't be added to the A's roster for another 12 days. Because he was removed from the A's 25-man roster in February and re-added as a non-roster player, major league rules stipulate that Bocachica remain off the A's 25-man roster for the first 45 days of the season. That should make him eligible around May 15, at which time he is likely to be added to the A's depleted outfield.

Other candidates to replace Piazza could be top prospect Daric Barton, although Barton has struggled in Triple-A this season, or Erubiel Durazo, who spent the spring with the A's but was cut before the start of the season. He is currently playing for Monterrey of the Mexican League and is hitting .421 with three homers.

The River Cats' best hitter besides Bocachica this season has been second baseman Kevin Melillo, who is hitting .320 with an 890 OPS. He isn't likely to be added because the A's are already carrying three players capable of playing second base (Mark Ellis, Marco Scutaro and Todd Walker), but the A's could decide to turn to Melillo if they are looking for a spark at the top of the order. He has a .410 OBP so far this season and could DH for the A's while Piazza is out.

Oakland has the day off today, so they won't likely make an announcement until later in the day.

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