Baseball was the least of Chris Bassitt’s concerns after the Athletics right-hander was hit in the face by a Brian Goodwin line drive on August 17, as Bassitt had to undergo surgery to fix fractures in his jaw and cheek. When Bassitt emerged from that surgery, however, his focus turned towards returning to the mound before the end of the 2021 season, and he now looks closer to making that hope into a reality.
Bassitt took part in some fielding drills today and also threw his first bullpen session, tossing 35 pitches. He is slated for another bullpen Wednesday under simulated-game conditions. It isn’t yet known what path the A’s will take with Bassitt after Wednesday’s session, though manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com’s Martin Gallegos and other reporters that Bassitt could end up pitching “multiple outings” before the year is out.
Depending on Bassitt’s progress, this could mean multiple starts, multiple appearances as a reliever, or perhaps a mixture of both. Bassitt told Gallegos and other media that he is open to working in whatever capacity the A’s need as the team continues to battle for a wild card spot.
“I’m surprised it’s going as smoothly as it is because of how much crap was wrong,” Bassitt said. “But once I had surgery and realized I’m going to be OK, I’m not surprised after that. I can deal with uncomfortable stuff. Watching the guys out there grinding and trying to get to the postseason is all the motivation I need.”
Bassitt was enjoying another standout season in Oakland’s rotation, posting a 3.22 ERA/3.76 SIERA over 151 innings with a very strong 5.7% walk rate and an above-average 25.2% strikeout rate. Potentially losing him as a full-time starter would undoubtedly be a blow for the Athletics, yet Bassitt might represent quite a weapon for an A’s bullpen that has seen its share of struggles in recent weeks. All will depend on Bassitt’s health, of course, though Bassitt as a multi-inning reliever or perhaps as a bulk pitcher (behind an opener) would strongly bolster the Athletics’ pitching mix down the stretch.