OAKLAND -- As the days flip on the calendar it is starting to look less and less likely that Jordan Norberto will return to the Oakland Athletics bullpen before season's end. Norberto was placed on the disabled list with left shoulder tendonitis on Aug. 21 and has been out since Aug. 17. It is his second DL stint this season with issues in his throwing shoulder.Norberto, 25, hopes to begin playing catch soon. The team can't make any estimates on a potential return date until he picks up a ball and throws. "My arm is making progress and when I am stretching now I am not feeling pain like I used to feel before," Norberto said. "We are going to start throwing this week, I feel a lot better.""We'll take it day to day with him once he starts throwing. I am not sure how long it would take to get him in game shape," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We do feel like we have good depth in our bullpen, but man, he was a major contributor." Norberto says this injury is similar to the previous one. He missed 18 games with a left shoulder strain from May 31 to June 20. Yet, he has already missed 26 games during his latest DL stint. That may have to do with the cautious approach the A's are taking with him. "Now we have to be more careful because I don't want to be hurt again," Norberto said. "They want me to take care of it 100 percent before I come back." Norberto seemed to be fully recovered when he was activated from the DL on June 21; in 18 appearances he posted a 1.69 ERA. He emerged as a key component to the A's bullpen this season. In 39 games he had a 2.77 ERA, struck out 46 batters and walked 22 in 52 innings. Of those 39 appearances, 19 went for more than an inning. "If he doesn't pitch again he's already had a spectacular year for us," Melvin said. "He got righties out, he got lefties out, he gave us length, he pitched late in games, he could pick up a starter if he was struggling, he was as versatile as we have." Even without Norberto the A's bullpen has been one of the strengths of the team. A's relief pitchers rank first in the American League and second in the major leagues with a 2.80 ERA. Forced to sit back and watch, Norberto likes what he sees in his teammates' performances. "They've been doing a really good job in the bullpen," Norberto said. "They pick each other up like Jerry Blevins the other night coming in for Grant Balfour and getting a save, Ryan Cook made an adjustment and he's been very consistent. Sean Doolittle too, Pat Neshek, all those guys, they pitch really well."
Left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler is staying with the A's.
The 30-year-old has reportedly agreed to a minor league deal with Oakland, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.
The deal includes an invitation to spring training.
The A's purchased Detwiler's contract from the Indians on July 17 and he went on to make nine appearances for the club, including seven starts.
In his time with the A's, Detwiler posted a 6.14 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 44 innings.
Sources: A's have signed left-hander Ross Detwiler to a minor league deal. He'll get an invite to big league camp.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 18, 2017
Trevor Plouffe and Ryon Healy have some history to fall back on before they even start playing together as A’s teammates.
No doubt, their futures are intertwined as well.
Plouffe officially joined Oakland on Wednesday when the team announced his one-year deal that’s worth $5.25 million, plus incentives based on various numbers of plate appearances. General manager David Forst said on a media conference call that he envisions Plouffe as the primary third baseman. That means Healy — coming off an impressive rookie campaign at third — will see the majority of his innings at first base and designated hitter.
Plouffe and Healy grew up in Southern California and both went to Crespi Carmelite High School, though Plouffe, 30, is five years older. But it wasn’t until this winter that they’ve gotten to know each other better, as the rainfall in Southern California drew them both to the same indoor training facility.
They played for the same high school coach, Scott Muckey, which is how Plouffe first heard of Healy.
“I remember hearing about him when he was in high school,” Plouffe said Wednesday. (Muckey) told me about Healy and the kind of player he was. He didn’t give players a lot of credit, so when he did, I took notice.”
Healy works out in the offseason at the Hit Factory in Newberry Park. Earlier this winter, Plouffe popped in with Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.
“It’s kind of coming full circle,” Healy said. “We never thought, being (five) years apart, that we would be teammates. We haven’t had (much of a) prior relationship, but he’s always reached out to me when appropriate. I’ve heard nothing but nice things about the guy. We worked out , chatted and exchanged numbers, and we’re starting that relationship early.”
Plouffe was limited to 84 games last year with Minnesota due to rib and oblique injuries, hitting .260 with 12 homers and 47 RBI. Before that, he averaged 18 homers and 68 RBI from 2012-15, twice topping the 20-HR mark. The Twins non-tendered Plouffe in December rather than pay him the roughly $8 million he was likely to receive in arbitration. That made Plouffe a free agent.
He and Healy make compelling workout partners, as Plouffe’s arrival in green and gold is likely to push Healy over to first, where he played in college and early in his minor league career. But it’s not a combative situation, and the offseason workouts help to build chemistry.
“I was kind of taking my reps at third and first, continuing doing that routine to be prepared for that possiblity,” Healy said. “It doesn’t seem like anything is set in stone. I still have to prove to them I’m ready to play major league baseball come spring time.”
The right-handed hitting Healy will form a platoon at first with Yonder Alonso, Forst said, and see time in a DH rotation that figures to also include Khris Davis, Stephen Vogt, Matt Joyce and possibly others. But Forst noted that Healy also needs to stay sharp at third base.
“It’s easy to envision a scenario where (Plouffe) gets the bulk of time at third base and we still have 500 plate appearances for other guys like Ryon. We have every intention of getting at-bats for Ryon. Trevor is not gonna be out there 162 times, we know that. Ryon is going to have to continue to be ready at third base.”
Forst said the A’s are still scanning the free agent and trade market for potential additions, both on the position-player and pitching side.
Oakland reportedly has agreed to a two-year contract with reliever Santiago Casilla that has yet to be finalized.