Chris Bassitt returns as A’s try to avoid sweep vs. Mariners

Field Level Media

September 23, 2021 at 6:57 am.

Five weeks after getting hit in the face with a 100-mph line drive, Chris Bassitt is ready to return to the mound.

The Oakland right-hander is scheduled to start Thursday afternoon when the A’s wrap up a four-game series with the visiting Seattle Mariners.

“I think initially, it’ll be like, ‘Wow!’ ” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of his expectations. “After that, it’ll be like regular Chris Bassitt doing his thing out there. We’ll come full circle with him back on the mound. This is something that he’s been trying to get back to doing from the very beginning.

“To me, it’s kind of miraculous. But considering it’s Chris Bassitt, not so much.”

Bassitt (12-4) was leading the American League in victories when he was struck Aug. 17 by a liner off the bat of the Chicago White Sox’s Brian Goodwin.

Bassitt was carted off the field and taken to a hospital for stitches and had surgery for several fractures near his right eye.

Even before the surgery, he vowed to his teammates he’d be back this season.

Bassitt threw a bullpen session Sept. 12 and had two more throwing sessions over the next week. He faced hitters in a simulated game last weekend in Anaheim.

“I’ve been ready,” Bassitt said. “It’s just a matter of there were a lot of boxes that needed to be checked. We finally checked them all off.”

The A’s (82-70) were holding down one of the AL’s wild-card playoff berths when Bassitt was injured, but have gone 14-18 since to fall 3 1/2 games back.

“It sucked watching the way we’ve been playing,” Bassitt said. “It hasn’t been fun, especially sitting there thinking I can really help the team and not being allowed to. It’s been a little bit of a torture chamber. I’m happy to finally be back and, hopefully, help the team win.”

The Mariners (83-69) passed Oakland in the wild-card race with a 4-1 victory Wednesday as Kyle Seager and Ty France hit solo homers and will go for a sweep of the series Thursday.

“Won the series. I said along the way we might need to get a little lucky and sweep somebody, so we have a chance to do that (Thursday),” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We’ll see if we can get it done.”

Melvin said he’s unsure how long Bassitt will be able to go in his first game back. Right-hander James Kaprelian, originally scheduled to start Thursday, likely will move to the bullpen to take over from Bassitt if necessary.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Melvin said. “Length is going to be an issue on that particular day. Knowing (Bassitt), it’s probably going to be us having to hold him back.”

Bassitt is 1-4 with a 4.26 ERA in 12 career appearances against Seattle, including 10 starts. He doesn’t have a decision in two starts against the M’s this season.

The Mariners are set to counter with left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (7-9, 4.32), who has lost his past three decisions and six of his past seven. Kikuchi is 1-2 with a 2.80 ERA in eight career starts against Oakland, including 1-0 in two starts this year.