Jefferies will be placed on the injured list with right biceps tendinitis to open the minor-league season, Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The 25-year-old missed out on Oakland's Opening Day roster but has continued to pitch at the alternate training site in preparation for a potential promotion, but he'll now also be sidelined for the start of the minor-league season. Jefferies is expected to head to Triple-A once healthy, but he figures to be unavailable for at least the first couple weeks of May.
Jefferies is scheduled to pitch at the alternate site on the same day that Cole Irvin pitches for the big club as Oakland looks to keep its options open, Martin Gallegos of MLB.com reports. Irvin gave up four earned runs while striking out two in 4.1 innings against the Astros in his first start of the season, so he may already have a pretty short leash. If Irvin struggles again, Jefferies could replace him in the rotation.
Jefferies was optioned to Oakland's alternate site Thursday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Jefferies was in the mix for a temporary rotation spot in the absence of Mike Fiers (hip). Both he and fellow contestant A.J. Puk were sent down Thursday, leaving Cole Irvin as the apparent winner. Jefferies should still play a role for the Athletics this season, though it's unclear when he'll get his first opportunity.
Jefferies, competing for the one current vacancy in the Athletics' rotation, allowed an earned run on three hits, three walks and a hit batsman over five innings in a Cactus League win over the Giants on Sunday. He struck out four. The young right-hander had a tough act to follow with fellow job candidates Cole Irvin and A.J. Puk turning in brilliant outings the prior two days, but he held his own despite some control issues. Martin Gallegos of MLB.com reports Jefferies impressed with his ability to work out of trouble after loading the bases with two outs in the second inning, showing a level of grit that hadn't been required during what had been a very smooth spring up to that point. "Today was a day he had to fight through his stuff a little bit and be composed out there," A's pitching coach Scott Emerson said. "He showed a lot of fight today. To be able to pitch without his best stuff and get through five, he did a nice job."
Jefferies is the leading candidate to fill the rotation vacancy created by Mike Fiers' (hip) placement on the injured list Friday, Martin Gallegos of MLB.com reports. Jefferies has been a revelation this spring, as he's pitched to a 1.38 ERA, .149 BAA, 0.77 WHIP and 20:3 K:BB across 13 Cactus League frames over five appearances (three starts). The young right-hander has only one major-league start under his belt, but given his body of work this spring, he appears to have taken a significant step forward in his development. Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle reports Fiers is expected to miss at least the first three regular-season series, meaning Jefferies would presumably get multiple opportunities to prove himself if he does secure the rotation spot.
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