Oakland Athletics Rumors: SP Sean Manaea returning sooner than expected?

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images /

If the rumors are to be believed, the Oakland Athletics’ pitching rotation could get a big boost in the form of Sean Manaea earlier than expected.

Back in September, Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sean Manaea underwent shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. The initial expectation was that he’d miss most if not all of the 2019 MLB season, a huge bummer for his employer and its fans.

Well, as it turns out, Manaea is ahead of schedule. That is, according to Athletics manager Billy Beane, who provided quite the interesting update (or Christmas present) via the San Francisco Examiner’s Ryan Gorcey:

"We need starters, but with guys like Sean, we’ve got a process of rehab that we’ve got to follow through. Optimistically, and I think we should be optimistic because it sounds like the surgery went well, we’re hoping there’s a chance Sean will be there at the All-Star break. As far as all the stages that he has to take, those things can change, but we’re looking at an end date, potentially, possibly, the All-Star break, and hope for the best during rehab at that point."

The difference between All-Star break (in July) and the entire 2019 campaign is huge. Especially when it comes to an ace like Manaea, a midseason return could make or break an entire season. Having him back in the rotation will do wonders for the Athletics, assuming he’s actually back to full health.

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It’s also worth mentioning that fellow starters Jharel Cotton and A.J. Puk are expected to be back for Oakland by the middle of the season. The recent two-year deal signed by Mike Fiers should also provide an assist in the pitching department. Although adding starters is a big need for the Athletics at this moment, it may not be by the time the All-Star break rolls around.

All of this sounds great, but the only thing that truly matters is Manaea getting back on the diamond. We’ll likely have more updates in the coming months as he starts to get back into throwing, but for the time being, it’s encouraging to hear Beane make public statements indicating that his rehab is progressing well.

Injuries have crippled the Athletics’ starting pitcher ranks as of late, between Manaea’s injury, Cotton and Puk undergoing Tommy John surgery and Andrew Triggs also going under the knife. It played a big part in Oakland’s fall from grace after a strong start to the 2018 season.

Prior to Manaea undergoing surgery back in September, the 26-year-old hurler was having the best season of his MLB career, sporting a 3.59 ERA and 12-9 record. The hope now is that he’ll get back on the mound by the All-Star break and pick up right where he left off.

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If that is the case, the Athletics will be a team worth taking seriously in 2019.