A's Miguel Andujar Nearing Return

Mar 6, 2024; Tempe, Arizona, USA;  Oakland Athletics right fielder Miguel Andujar (22) looks on
Mar 6, 2024; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Oakland Athletics right fielder Miguel Andujar (22) looks on / Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
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Ahead of Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals, manager Mark Kotsay told reporters that Miguel Andujar is set to play back-to-back games on Saturday (which he did) and Sunday, and that the team will evaluate him at that point and determine next steps from there.

For an A's team that has been struggling mightily over for the past two weeks, this is welcome news. Following the team's 20-4 outburst against the Miami Marlins on May 4, the A's are 2-12 and have been outscored 97-55. On average they're losing these games by three runs per contest. With so many pitching injuries cropping up, the only way to get back into the win column is to score more runs than they are, and hopefully for the green and gold, Andujar can provide some of improvement on offense.

After going 2-for-3 with three RBI in his first rehab game, he went 0-for-3 on Saturday. While most baseball fans will rememer him as a third baseman for the New York Yankees, he's been playing in the outfield of late, and that is where the A's plan to utilize him.

How they clear a spot for him could be interesting, but the obvious decision would seem to be optioning Esteury Ruiz back down to Triple-A. He has shown off a little more pop this season, and his wRC+ sits at 98 which is roughly league average, but his strikeout rate has jumped up ten percent to 29%, and he has started just two games since May 8. He is also 4-for-8 in stolen base attempts.

The other interesting part of Andujar's impending arrival will be whose playing time gets cut to get his bat in the lineup on a regular basis. There are a number of permutations the lineup could take, but right now Abraham Toro and Brent Rooker need to be in there every day. JJ Bleday's bat could take a day off here and there, but he's also the team's centerfielder. If Ruiz goes down to Triple-A, then there's not a great backup option in center.

The likely scenario here is that Seth Brown and Tyler Nevin see their at-bats shrink a little bit while Andujar gets some time at DH and in the field. This would push Rooker from the designated hitter role into the field on a more regular basis. Toro can play all over the field, so he can be deployed wherever he's needed. Then you have Zack Gelof at second, Shea Langeliers behind the dish, Max Schuemann at short, and Bleday in center every game. Rooker and Andujar can rotate between left field and DH.

From there, it's all about matchups with Brett Harris, Brown, Nevin, J.D. Davis, and Tyler Soderstrom.

The A's have scored three or fewer runs in each of their last six games, and two or fewer in five of those six. While Andujar may not be a savior for this club, the hope is that his bat can provide a spark, and perhaps a little more consistency to the offense.


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Jason Burke

JASON BURKE

Jason is the host of the Locked on A's podcast, and the managing editor of Inside the A's. He's a new father and can't wait to take his son to his first baseball game at the Coliseum.