MESA, Ariz. — A’s catcher Chris Herrmann likely needs right knee surgery that will force him to miss the beginning of the season, manager Bob Melvin said Wednesday.
Although neither Melvin nor team trainer Nick Paparesta had a definite timetable for Herrmann’s return, the manager does not think it is a season-ending injury.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, as far as the surgery goes, but he’ll be playing at some point this year,” Melvin said. “Just not at the start.”
Herrmann, who signed a one-year deal with Oakland in the offseason, will get a second opinion before undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a fissure of the femoral condyle part of the knee. Paparesta said the team won’t know for sure the severity of the injury until after the surgery, which has not been scheduled yet.
“We don’t know how deep [the fissure] is until he goes in there,” Paparesta said. “So I can’t tell whether or not he’s going to be on crutches for a long period of time or be able to get off the crutches early.”
Herrmann, 31, seemed likely to make the Opening Day roster before the injury. Melvin indicated Wednesday the team might start the season with veteran catchers Josh Phegley and Nick Hundley, who signed a minor-league deal with the club last month. Oakland also has catcher Sean Murphy, the No. 3 overall prospect in its farm system, at big-league camp. However, Melvin said Murphy, 24, could use more development before making his MLB debut.
Without left-handed Herrmann, the A’s won’t be able to platoon at the catching position if they begin 2019 with Phegley and Hundley. Still, Melvin felt good about the options ahead of the season opener March 20 in Japan against the Seattle Mariners.
“We’re pretty well-covered at this point,” Melvin said.
A seven-year MLB veteran, Herrmann was expected to play an important role for the A’s this season. After serving as a utility man during stints with the Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners, Herrmann was slated to play mostly behind the plate this season.
Paparesta said the fissure in Herrmann’s knee was first discovered in late January when the player had an MRI after the knee began swelling during offseason workouts. Initially, Herrmann had the knee drained and took cortisone shots. Paparesta said Herrmann felt good when he reported for the start of spring camp. Herrmann played in seven games with 13 at-bats.
But the swelling returned Tuesday, leading to another MRI that revealed the fissure had worsened. Paparesta said a little of the cartilage in Herrmann’s knee had torn away and that there were bone chips that needed to be cleaned up. There is no apparent damage to any of Herrmann’s ligaments.
“It’s not the kind of ligament injury where you can say he’s going to be out X amount of days for sure,” Paparesta said.
– Melvin expects A’s slugger Khris Davis, who has been out so far this spring with a calf injury, to make his Cactus League debut on Friday. This week, Davis has looked good in running drills, including S-arcs around the infield, according to Paparesta. “The biggest thing with Khris is making sure that each and every day when he comes back after running that he feels good and he’s not having an increase or any discomfort at all,” Paparesta said. Davis still has to run the bases, but Melvin said if all goes well he anticipates Davis coming back for Friday’s game against the San Diego Padres.