OAKLAND — The Oakland A’s optioned left-handed reliever A.J. Puk to Triple-A Las Vegas on Wednesday after the top prospect’s troubling outing against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.
The A’s called up hard-throwing reliever Miguel Romero as the corresponding roster move. Romero, 27, will make his major league debut and comes to Oakland carrying a 6.40 ERA in 26 appearances, including 13 starts, in 71 2/3 innings with the Aviators. He has 54 strikeouts and 32 walks.
Because of his experience starting, the right-handed pitcher could be used in a long relief role along with Daulton Jefferies.
“He can give us length. He’s been up to 90 pitches,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We need some length at times and we’ve been burning through some of those guys.”
Romero came to the Oakland organization in 2017 out of Cuba, where he had a 4.80 ERA in four years with Guantanamo. In Triple-A last year, Romero converted three of four save opportunities with a 3.96 ERA, 81 strikeouts and 36 walks. In four seasons in the A’s organization, Romero has 18 saves and a 4.83 ERA in 129 games, including 19 starts with 243 strikeouts.
“It feels really good to be here. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity the last couple years and I’m excited I’ll be able to get the opportunity,” Romero said through an interpreter.
Romero said he found out about the call-up with the Las Vegas Aviators about to leave Houston after a road trip to Sugar Land, Texas. A pivot so unexpected for Romero that one of his packed bags made it to Oakland with him for his big league call-up, the other went to Las Vegas.
Puk will return to Las Vegas for a second stint this year. The 26-year-old struggled with a shoulder injury at the start of the 2021 season and, once recovered, was optioned immediately to Triple-A until his call-up on Aug. 10. A promising four scoreless outings with a lower, more effective arm slot flipped to a troubling 13.50 ERA over his last seven appearances.
Puk spent the 2020 season nursing a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery last September. Heading into the 2021 season, the A’s were hopeful to slot Puk — a 2016 first-round pick — into the rotation. But an inability for him to find his big league footing has him popping in and out of inconsistent bullpen stints. Following his initial call-up in September 2019, Puk has a 4.74 ERA in 24 2/3 innings with a 1.581 WHIP.
Chris Bassitt update
Bassitt is already taking strides toward a return to the mound. The right-handed pitcher is scheduled to throw off flat ground on Thursday — if all goes well, he could throw a bullpen session on Saturday, Melvin said.
Bassitt is two weeks removed from surgery to repair facial fractures after taking a line drive to his face in Chicago on Aug. 17.
“He’s going to try to accelerate this thing as quickly as he possibly can,” Melvin said, adding he’s been cleared for a timetable and does not need to consult with doctors before pitching.
Mike Fiers, who has been out for the majority of the season with a sprained throwing elbow, is scheduled to throw to hitters on Friday.
Seth Brown, who’s been out with COVID-19 since Aug. 27, is back with the team fully recovered and will start a rehab assignment with the Stockton Ports on Thursday.