Oakland A's MLN: Off-Season Rehab Updates

The off-season is a time for healing. So how are some of the Oakland A's prospects doing with their recoveries from in-season injuries? We have updates on Andrew Carignan, Sean Doolittle, Dusty Coleman, Jason Christian and more. We also report on another member of the A's organization taking home post-season hardware and give an update on winter and fall league news inside...

Rehab Updates: Carignan Improving; Doolittle Recovering

There is mixed news on the injury front for two Oakland A's top prospects who missed much of the 2009 campaign with injuries. The good news falls with reliever Andrew Carignan, who is throwing on the mound again after battling an elbow injury that cost him all but two innings of the 2009 season. According to Oakland A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman, Carignan recently returned from a three-week stint at the A's Instructional League camp in the Dominican Republic, where the right-hander threw seven innings to test his arm. Carignan "came out of the program healthy with same velocity and stuff he had shown the previous year. His command and pitches were not quite there but [it was] not to be expected," Lieppman wrote in an e-mail to OaklandClubhouse.com on Tuesday. Carignan is expected to rest for the remainder of the off-season and report to spring training as normal. The A's fifth-round pick in 2007 had a 2.01 ERA and 28 saves in 2008, his first full professional season, and he was a non-roster invitee to the A's major league spring training camp last spring.

The news was not so good in regards to Sean Doolittle, who was sidelined five weeks into the season with a tear in his left patella tendon. Doolittle attempted to rehab the injury without surgery, even undergoing plasma rich platelet therapy, a series of injections designed to help the injury heal without surgery. Doolittle's rehab seemed to be going well at various points during the regular season, but every time he was close to returning to the field, the date for his return was pushed back. He has now had the surgery to correct the tear, according to Lieppman, and it is too early to tell whether the recovery will delay his arrival at spring training this year. Doolittle was batting .267 with an 811 OPS in 28 games with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats at the time of his injury. The A's 2007 supplemental first-round pick hit 22 homeruns during his first professional season in 2008 and was also a non-roster invitee to the A's big league camp this past spring.

In other rehab news, A's infield prospects Dusty Coleman (wrist) and Jason Christian (shoulder) have not yet suffered any set-backs in their respective recoveries from injury. Assuming no further set-backs, both infielders are expected to be ready for spring training, although Lieppman cautioned that these types of rehabs can often endure some sort of set-back.

Lieppman also noted that top A's pitching prospects Fautino De Los Santos (Tommy John surgery) and Michael Ynoa (elbow tendonitis) are progressing well in their rehabs and are almost ready to pitch in real games at the Dominican Instructional League. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier on Tuesday that both pitchers threw in simulated games recently.

Lieppman also mentioned that A's outfield prospect Tyreace House is spending a month at the A's Dominican Instructional camp to work "on his bunting, stolen bases, leadoff-type approach, and overall game." House hit .291 with a .365 OBP in 56 games for the short-season A Vancouver Canadians this season. He was first on the team in stolen bases, fourth in batting average and third in on-base percentage, but he was caught stealing 10 times and managed only three extra-base hits. House was the A's sixth-round pick in 2008. Lieppman noted that House was doing well in the program. A's minor league infield coordinator and Mexican baseball legend Juan Navarette is running the A's Dominican Instructional camp.

Lieppman Honored By Minor League Baseball

Lieppman was honored with Minor League Baseball's Chief Bender Award on Tuesday. The award is designed to honor "someone with distinguished service who has been instrumental in player development." Lieppman has served as the A's Director of Player Development for the past 18 years. Under his watch, the organization has produced six minor leaguers who have gone on to win the American League's Rookie of the Year award -- Ben Grieve (OAK, 1998), Eric Hinske (TOR, 2002), Angel Berroa (KC, 2003), Bobby Crosby (OAK, 2004), Huston Street (OAK, 2005) and Andrew Bailey (OAK, 2009). The A's have also produced two homegrown AL MVPs (Jason Giambi, 2000, and Miguel Tejada, 2002) and one homegrown AL Cy Young Award winner (Barry Zito, 2002) during Lieppman's tenure.

Lieppman, a University of Kansas alum, has spent 39 years as a member of the A's organization. He was the A's second-round pick in 1971 and spent nine seasons as a player in the A's minor league system. He was later a manager in the A's system, working at every level from Rookie Ball to Triple-A. Lieppman will receive the award at baseball's Winter Meetings, scheduled for the week of December 7th in Indianapolis. This is the second year for the Chief Bender Award. Minnesota Twins Director of Minor League Operations Jim Rantz was the first recipient in 2008.

Fall/Winter League Notes: Rodriguez Won't Start This Winter After All

According to Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, Aguilas del Zuila manager Eduardo Perez has decided against having Oakland A's prospect Henry Rodriguez start for his team this winter. We had reported last week that the Aguilas were considering moving Rodriguez into the rotation. Instead, Rodriguez will continue his role as a reliever. Rodriguez, according to the newspaper, had received permission from the A's to act as a starter this winter should the Aguilas need him in that role. However, Perez determined that Rodriguez would benefit the team more out of the bullpen because the team already had more than enough starters and Rodriguez would be limited to a pitch count of 40 or so pitches per outing.

Rodriguez was a starter in the A's organization until midway through the 2008 season, when he was switched into a relief role. He was a reliever throughout the 2009 season and made his major league debut out of the bullpen this September. Through Monday, Rodriguez had appeared in two games for Zuila this winter, allowing six runs in only 1.2 innings of work.

* A's prospects will have a chance to win an AFL ring for a sixth consecutive season this Saturday. The Phoenix Desert Dogs clinched a spot in the league's championship game on Monday. Grant Desme, Corey Brown, Jemile Weeks, James Simmons, Sam Demel, Justin Friend and Mickey Storey are the A's representatives on the Desert Dogs' squad. Phoenix, which carries A's prospects every season, has won the last five AFL titles.

*A's left-hander Dana Eveland is in discussions to join the Aguilas de Mexicali of the Mexican Winter League during the second half of the league's season, according to Mexicali's La Cronica.com.

* Minor league free agent Jerome Williams, who spent the entire 2009 season with the Sacramento River Cats, is pitching in relief in the Puerto Rican Winter League. He has tossed 3.1 scoreless innings over two appearances for the Gigantes de Carolina and he has converted his only save opportunity.

* Fatigue may be starting to catch-up with some of the A's prospects playing in fall or winter leagues. Top prospect Chris Carter is 0-for-his-last-7 with five strike-outs for Guasave of the Mexican Winter League. He is batting .212 with a 770 OPS in 17 MWL games. Weeks has seen his AFL average drop to .250 as he is only five-for-his-last-32 with four walks and two extra-base hits. Matt Carson has gone hitless in his last six games (0-for-18) and is batting only .212 with a 558 OPS for Aguilas of the Dominican Winter League. James Simmons has allowed six runs over his last seven AFL innings and his ERA has risen to 4.50.

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