How Jesus Luzardo's coronavirus absence could impact A's rotation


A’s starting pitcher Mike Fiers was cleared to start practice with the team Tuesday after several days dealing with what manager Bob Melvin characterized as “pending issues.”

Jesus Luzardo, however, remains sidelined and will be for a while longer after reportedly testing positive for coronavirus. Melvin described Luzardo’s absence as a pending issue as well and would not go into greater detail, but the San Francisco Chronicle reported shortly after that Melvin presser the positive test results. 

As a policy, the team won’t get into results of COVID-19 tests or procedural delays or hiccups.

Luzardo must isolate himself for 14 days, per MLB protocols regarding positive coronavirus test results. 

That could have an impact on the A's rotation. Pitchers won't be completely ramped up after a three-week training camp anyway, though Luzardo's delayed return to the field could impact original plans for the rotation. 

Melvin said before the news of Luzardo's positive test that a delay getting Luzardo on the field, especially during a compacted, three-week training camp, could have an impact on the rotation. 

They have great pitching depth, with as good of a starting five as you’ll find, with Chris Bassitt a quality sixth option who could be a long relief pitcher or slide into the starting rotation.

Luzardo might not be part of the rotation early on, or he might be able to pitch in a planned relief role while he starts to stretch himself out. 

“We’ve had a little bit of a setback here early on, but we’ll get that figured out as we move along,” Melvin said in a Tuesday video conference with the media. “We don’t have one at this point. I’ll tell you the truth, we really have three or four guys I would feel comfortable with. We’ll figure it out as we go along.”

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The A's have several contenders for that No. 1 spot. Fiers, A.J. Puk, Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea could all fit into the early rotation slots. 

Melvin said there was some concern over the A’s not being able to get their position players on the field as scheduled on Sunday. The full squad didn’t work out until Monday evening reportedly due to a delay in getting results from their intake testing.

“It was just such a big relief getting everyone back on the field,” Melvin said. “You do the best you can with it knowing there are going to be obstacles along the way. That’s part of my message. If you think routines are going to be easy and things will go seamlessly, it’s not. I think a good representation of that was the last few days for us.”

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The A’s will conduct a simulated game with five or six innings planned in an exercise that will look like an intrasquad game. It will be the first such session, which will become a regular thing during this training camp. They will play two, possibly three games with the Giants just before the season starts.

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