OAKLAND — In one respect, it was a perfectly apt ending to a perfectly miserable season. Not the 6-1 loss the A's had pinned on them by the Texas Rangers on Thursday — there are still 15 games of misery left — but rather the news that came before it.
Second baseman Mark Ellis won't play again this year and may be headed toward surgery on his injured right shoulder.
Does such a development even raise an eyebrow anymore?
In Ellis' case, it should if only because of the symbolism involved. The A's placed a record 24 players on the disabled list this season, so it only makes sense that an injury is sending home early the longest-tenured among those still on the active roster.
"It's definitely not the news you want to hear," Ellis said. "But it is what it is. If I have to get it fixed, I have to get it fixed."
Whether that will occur surgically remains in question. A's team orthopedist Dr. John Frazier has recommended surgery, Ellis said, after a CT scan taken in the Bay Area on Wednesday revealed Ellis has a torn labrum and two chipped cartilage.
The labrum isn't the problem, Ellis said. He's had that issue since colliding with shortstop Bobby Crosby in a spring training game in 2004, an event that nearly ended his career. But the cartilage damage apparently is what has made throwing so painful in the aftermath of what Ellis said he thought was a minor incident at Seattle on Aug. 21.
In that game,
Ellis, 31, said he will seek a second opinion on a recent MRI from Los Angeles Angels orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum before deciding whether he will go with Frazier's recommendation. Ellis said surgery brings with it a recovery time of three to four months, which would have him ready to go by spring training.
"It's not good timing by any means," he said of the injury. "But I know I can still play. I know that this is something that's not going to end my career."
What it may have done, however, is end his A's career. Ellis will be a free agent at season's end, and his future with the A's has been in question for some time. Ellis cut off contract talks with the team in July and later said he did so because of the distraction it caused and the disappointing season he was having.
Ellis hit .231 with 12 home runs and 41 RBI in 117 games.
"We've obviously missed him while he's been gone," A's manager Bob Geren said. "He's a huge part of the team. We wish him a speedy recovery whether it's through surgery or not."
Geren might want to reserve that wish for his team, as well. A's starter Dallas Braden regressed a bit, allowing six runs (five earned) over four innings and losing for the first time in four starts.
The A's offense mustered only four hits through five innings against Rangers starter Dustin Nippert.
And Jack Cust struck out three times, giving him an Oakland-record 176 this season, breaking the mark of 175 set by Jose Canseco in 1986.
It was not what Geren wanted to see in the opener of the penultimate regular-season series between the two teams. The Rangers pushed their lead over the A's to 41/2 games in the race for second place in the American League West.
"For me, they've always been a division-rival type," Geren said. "And (finishing second) would be good at this point."
Contact Rick Hurd at email@example.com.