MLB

A’s ace Chris Bassitt returns from injured list after being hit in face by line drive in August

USATI

The Oakland Athletics welcomed back All-Star pitcher Chris Bassitt on Thursday, activating him from the injured list just a month after he was struck in the face by a line drive on Aug. 17. That incident necessitated surgery to repair facial fractures.

Bassitt threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Monday, his fourth time throwing off a mound since the surgery. Over the weekend Bassitt even threw two simulated innings with no screen. It’s unclear how the A’s intend to use him over the next week-plus, and perhaps into the postseason, should they find a way in, but relief work seems likeliest.

“That’s something we need to talk about,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told Shayna Rubin on Monday. “How long we think he can go and whether or not it should be in a starting role or coming out of the bullpen.”

Given the long layoff and the fact the A’s only have 10 games remaining, there isn’t enough time to stretch Bassitt out to start. He was their best starter prior to the injury, but if there’s not enough time to stretch him out, then there’s not enough time to stretch him out. Bassitt can make a greater impact pitching more frequently as a short reliever.

The A’s arguably have a more pressing need in the bullpen anyway. They’ve experienced far too many late-inning meltdowns lately. The kind of meltdowns that cost them wins and pushed them outside the postseason picture. The rotation hasn’t been great the last few weeks (4.47 ERA since Bassitt’s injury) but the bullpen has been wretched. Bassitt would definitely help there.

Bassitt, 32, had a 3.22 ERA in 151 innings prior to the injury. He has some big-league bullpen experience, so it wouldn’t be an entirely new role for him. Either way, getting Bassitt back on the mound would help the A’s during their postseason push. And if nothing else, his return would be a wonderful feel-good story following such a scary injury.

The Athletics come into Thursday 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees for the second American League wild card spot. Here’s the up-to-date playoff picture.



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