OAKLAND -– A bruised finger has shortstop Jed Lowrie out of the A’s lineup Thursday for the third game in a row.
Manager Bob Melvin had expressed hope that Lowrie could return for Thursday’s series opener against the Minnesota Twins, but Melvin opted to sit Lowrie one more day.
“It’s probably more my decision,” Melvin said before the game. “I think he could have played today, but at shortstop, if you get any number of throws you have to make off-balance, and maybe he’s still feeling it … He’s swinging the bat fine. I wouldn’t hesitate to use him off the bench, but I’m probably a little more comfortable starting him tomorrow.”
A grounder during Monday’s game against Tampa Bay took a big hop on Lowrie and caught him on the tip of the index finger on his throwing hand.
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Lowrie said the finger is improving but it remains “pretty swollen, pretty bruised,” and it affects his throwing.
“The way it hit me, I’m lucky it wasn’t broken,” Lowrie said. “If it was another finger it’s not an issue. But that’s the finger that leaves the ball last.”
The injury came at a rotten time for the A’s, as Lowrie was one of the few Oakland players swinging a hot bat recently. He’s batting .337 (31-for-92) with 10 multi-hit games over his last 24 contests. He had a disappointing first half at the plate, but his average has climbed to .245 after dipping as low as .215 on June 25.
With Nick Punto sidelined by a strained right hamstring, the A’s are carrying just three middle infielders on their active roster. That makes Melvin hesitant to use Lowrie at designated hitter while he’s nursing the finger injury. Should Lowrie start at DH and then have to replace either Eric Sogard or Alberto Callaspo, the A’s would lose the DH for the first of the game.
Melvin said he expects that Punto won’t be ready to come off the disabled list when he’s first eligible Aug. 18.
Notes: It’s notable that center fielder Coco Crisp is in the lineup for a third consecutive game after missing seven in a row with a neck strain. The A’s expect to have to monitor him closely for the rest of the season. He’s 2-for-9 with two walks since returning but has yet to score a run. … First baseman Kyle Blanks was scheduled to run the bases again Thursday, and Melvin said Friday or Saturday as a possible start date for a minor league rehab assignment. … Stephen Vogt is trying to shake out of an 0-for-23 slump that’s the second-longest of his career. He also went hitless over his first 32 big league at-bats.