OAKLAND — Manager Bob Melvin didn’t try to sugarcoat how difficult it will be for the A’s to absorb the loss of Gold Glove first baseman Matt Olson for at least the first few weeks of the regular season.
Olson underwent surgery Friday that involved a right hamate excision in his right hand and is expected to be out for more than a month. The A’s play the Giants at the Coliseum on Sunday and are at Oracle Park on Monday and Tuesday to finish the Bay Bridge Series. The home opener is Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels.
“There’s guys that are irreplaceable. It’s going to be tough,” Melvin said Saturday as the team worked out at the Coliseum. “This guy’s a 30-home run left-handed bat. He’s a Gold Glover on his own and he makes everybody else better.
“There’s ones that are hard, there’s ones that are real hard. This is going to be tough.”
Asked if it might be tougher to go without him on offense or defense, Melvin said, “Both.”
“I think he’s the best first baseman in the game,” Melvin said. “He’s only going to get better, too. It’s quite a blow for us.”
For now, Melvin said against right-handed pitching, outfielder/infielder Chad Pinder will likely get more at bats at second base and second baseman Jurickson Profar will play some at first. Against lefties, Pinder will still likely be in left field and Mark Canha will get “the brunt” of the time at first. Robbie Grossman also figures to have a larger role.
Melvin added that as it stands now, Franklin Barreto will be on the A’s 25-man roster Thursday, assuming the club does not make a move between now and then.
Although Melvin did not want to put a timetable on when Olson might return, A’s executive vice-president Billy Beane said Olson’s injury typically takes six weeks and by the time the season starts Thursday, “we’ll have one week out of the way.”
“It’s disappointing to lose a Gold Glove, middle-of-the-lineup guy. But the good thing is we’ve got some versatility with some of the position players,” Beane said. “Short-term, we should be able to weather it.”
Beane said with Olson out, the A’s are not exploring what players might be available via trade or free agency.
“We feel good enough about the guys we have internally that it’s not worth going out externally,” Beane said. “Our options are better inside than they are outside.”
Olson, who had 29 home runs and 84 RBI in 162 games last season, felt pain near the center of palm after fouling off a pitch from Yusei Kikuchi in the fifth inning of Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners at the Tokyo Dome.
“You look at him and you would think he’s kind of indestructible,” Melvin said of Olson. “This is one of those things where it’s nothing he can do. Certainly physically he’s in great shape, he wants to play every day. He’s able to. But these are the type of things you can’t forecast.”
Canha took over first base after that, and has more experience at the position that any other player on the A’s roster.
“I kind of treated this spring as I do every other spring, and that’s just to get ready at all the platoons I play and don’t put any more emphasis on one than the other,” Canha said. “Because, as we’ve just seen, this happens time and time again.”
Profar hasn’t played first since last season when he played 23 games there with the Texas Rangers last season, and added that he doesn’t have a first baseman’s glove. He’ll need one soon. Melvin said Profar will start at first base Sunday.
“Things like this happen all the time. I’m ready for it. I’ve played there before and I’ll do anything to help the team,” Profar said.
▪ Melvin said the way the rotation lines up, Mike Fiers will start Thursday, followed by Marco Estrada on Friday and Brett Anderson on Saturday. He said the team will make an announcement on what will happen with their fourth and fifth spots in the rotation before Thursday. Anderson will start Sunday.
Right now, Aaron Brooks and Chris Bassitt might be in competition for the fifth starter’s role, although Bassitt still has a minor league option, so the A’s can stash him at Triple-A. Brooks is out of options.
“I think we have a little bit of an idea how it’s going to go, but no announcements yet,” Melvin said. “We’re comfortable with either and both.”
Both Brooks and Bassitt will pitch Tuesday.
“For me, consistency with every pitch,” Brooks said about Tuesday. “I’ve kind of gotten off the strike-throwing a bit in a couple games this spring. I really just want to come out and attack hitters and let the defense work behind me.”
Staff writer Martin Gallegos contributed to this story.