OAKLAND, CA - Josh Willingham #16 of the Oakland Athletics rounds the bases after he hit a two run home run in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

A's Josh Willingham DL'd, Prospect Chris Carter Promoted

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A's Josh Willingham DL'd, Prospect Chris Carter Promoted

According to the Oakland Athletics (who would know), left fielder Josh Willingham has been placed on the Disabled List with a strained left Achilles tendon, and prospect Chris Carter has been summoned from Sacramento.

This is a tough hit for the A's for two reasons.

One, Willingham has been their best hitter for most of this season.*

* Granted, that's completely damning with faint praise. Thanks to a recent slump, Willingham's OPS+ has fallen to 98 -- below league-average -- which is somehow still the highest among the club's regulars. Newcomers Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks have both done a lot better, but have been in the lineup for only a couple of weeks.

And two, if the A's are out of the race a month from now, they'll almost certainly try to flip Willingham -- along with any other warm bodies making decent money -- in a trade for a prospect or two. But if Willingham's numbers don't drive away potential trade partners, this injury might.

Carter, perhaps the Athletics' No. 2 prospect, debuted in the majors last August, was sent down after going 0-for-19, returned in September and went 0-for-12, but batted .342 with power in the last two weeks of the season. That wasn't enough for management, which brought in Willingham, David DeJesus, and Hideki Matsui last winter and sent Carter back to Sacramento for more seasoning.

Which doesn't seem to have worked, as Carter's .235/.362/.494 line with Sacramento this season is practically identical to his line with Sacramento last season. At 24, Carter's still young enough to develop but it's not obvious that he ever will.

This is a chance for him to play, though. Carter's a corner outfielder and a first baseman -- optimistically, perhaps -- and the A's currently have nobody hitting at any of those positions.

For much more about the A's, please visit Athletics Nation.

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