Chris Bassitt

Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Chris Bassitt (40) holds his hands to his face after getting hit by a ball from batter Chicago White Sox left fielder Brian Goodwin (18) during the second inning of the Chicago White Sox versus Oakland Athletics game Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.

OAKLAND — Five weeks after being struck in the face by a line drive, Oakland A’s ace Chris Bassitt appears on the brink of a remarkable return to the mound.

Bassitt, who faced long odds to return to the A’s before the regular season ends after undergoing facial surgery in Chicago five weeks ago, showed more progress on Monday in his latest bullpen throwing session. If he checks all the boxes on Tuesday morning, next step for the 32-year-old right-hander is to be activate and in a big league game as early as this week, manager Bob Melvin said. All signs point to Bassitt being activated as soon as Thursday. Or that’s the hope.

“I am optimistic,” Melvin said when asked if he though Bassitt was on the right track to return.

Bassitt threw a 30-pitch bullpen session prior to the A’s game against the Seattle Mariners. It marked the fourth bullpen or simulated game Bassitt threw since he returned to the team in late-August. In Anaheim, Bassitt threw two simulated innings with switch-hitter Skye Bolt standing in — without a screen in front of him.

Bassitt’s role when he returns is still undetermined.

“That’s something we need to talk about, how long we think he could go and whether or not it should be in a starting role or coming out of the bullpen,” Melvin said.

Bassitt was hit in the face by a line drive off Brian Goodwin’s bat on Aug. 17 during his start against the Chicago White Sox. He underwent surgery to repair a tripod fracture in his cheekbone. Before the injury, Bassitt was having a career year in the Cy Young award mix with a 3.22 ERA, 12-4 record and 154 strikeouts over 25 starts.

In any capacity, Bassitt could provide a significant boost for an A’s team vying for a postseason spot. Bassitt could reinvigorate a pitching staff scuffling with rookie James Kaprielian and Cole Irvin pitching deeper into the season than they had in their careers — and the bullpen struggles that followed a string of short starts from the starters.

A’s claim pitcher off waivers, DFA Aramis Garcia

The A’s claimed right-handed pitcher Michael Feliz off waivers from the Boston Red Sox and designated catcher Aramís Garcia for assignment to make room for Feliz on the 40-man roster on Monday afternoon.

Feliz, 28, will join his fourth team this season. He is a right-handed reliever who started with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he collected a 2.35 ERA in seven appearances this season. The Cincinnati Reds picked him up after the Pirates designated Feliz for assignment on May 9. He struggled in nine appearances with the Reds, collecting a 16.20 ERA. The Boston Red Sox picked him up off waivers on Aug. 28, where he recorded a 3.38 ERA in four appearances.

Most attractive to the A’s have to be Feliz’s 10.1 strikeout rate in 2021, but of concern is his 1.576 WHIP. Lou Trivino and Jake Diekman represent the lone strikeout-guys in the A’s bullpen. The bullpen’s 7.79 strikeout-per-nine rate ranks as the second-lowest in MLB, just ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“We look at our overall numbers, we probably aren’t the hardest throwing bullpen in the league,” Melvin said. “And anytime we can increase that with a better fit, that’s something we’re consistent in doing.”

The A’s are familiar with Feliz’s arm from his three seasons there from 2015 to 2017, where he held a 5.13 ERA in 98 games. Feliz spent four seasons after with the Pirates, where he had a 5.00 ERA over 115 appearances.

Garcia was last on the A’s catcher depth chart. With Yan Gomes’s acquisition from the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline alternating with Sean Murphy in his second full season, Austin Allen appears to be third on the depth chart after his call-up when September rosters expanded.

Garcia came to the A’s in the offseason trade that sent designated hitter Khris Davis and catcher Jonah Heim to the Texas Rangers for shortstop Elvis Andrus and a considerable amount of cash that helped the A’s sign relievers Sergio Romo and Yusmeiro Petit. Davis, who was DFA’d by the Rangers, is back in the A’s organization.

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