Parker to undergo second Tommy John surgery
The A’s will be playing for their third straight American League West title without Jarrod Parker on their side.
Oakland learned Monday afternoon that the right-hander, who was in line to make his first career Opening Day start, will instead undergo his second Tommy John surgery on March 25 and miss the entirety of the 2014 campaign.
Rehab from the surgery typically spans 12 to 18 months.
The devastating revelation is the latest in an unfortunate string of news for the A’s, who knew they would already be without A.J. Griffin (muscle strain) for the first month of the season. Parker and Griffin combined for 397 innings last year.
Now it’s likely Sonny Gray, who has just 12 big league starts under his belt, assumes Opening Day duties, with Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chavez, Dan Straily and Tommy Milone filling out the rotation.
“Obviously we feel bad for Jarrod,” said A’s assistant general manager David Forst. “I know he worked hard this offseason after having some struggles at the end of the year and was hoping to be at the top of the rotation this year. Other than that, we can only play the hand that we’re dealt, and we obviously spent a lot of time putting together pitching depth coming into the year, and some guys are going to have to step up.”
Parker, 25-16 with a 3.73 ERA in 61 starts for the A’s the last two years, experienced forearm discomfort for much of the last month of the 2013 season but entered camp feeling stronger than ever, having put on added muscle weight in an effort to avoid another round of late-season fatigue.
But he pitched to a 10.61 ERA in three starts this spring, before manager Bob Melvin noticed Parker struggling to get loose while playing catch on Friday. The two spoke shortly after, and it was decided right then that the pitcher would visit Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., on Monday,
Andrews performed Parker’s first Tommy John surgery on Oct. 28, 2009, while he was still a member of the D-backs organization. He’s far from the only pitcher to undergo the elbow procedure twice. Former A’s relievers Joey Devine and Jason Isringhausen are examples, as are Brian Wilson, Daniel Hudson, Ryan Madson, Kris Medlen and Cory Luebke.
“You don’t know what the recovery rate is with guys with a second Tommy John,” said Forst, “but unfortunately it’s becoming more frequent.”
Depth is what’s separated the A’s from their division counterparts in recent years, and they’re hoping they have enough to withstand their current crop of injuries and remain a contending team. Forst said the organization will not pursue outside help despite Monday’s news.
Chavez, who a valuable piece of the A’s bullpen last year, takes Griffin’s spot in the rotation, while Milone, who has compiled 25 wins for the club the past two years, now likely slots in for Parker. Oakland also has Drew Pomeranz and Josh Lindblom as other options.
“We obviously thought these guys could start when we brought them in here,” said Forst. “That’s why we stretched Jesse out from the start of Spring Training. That’s why Tommy wasn’t traded in the offseason, despite everyone saying, ‘What are they going to do with all these starters?’
“We’ve been through enough seasons to know five starters isn’t going to make it, and in this case, five starters didn’t make it to Opening Day. Hopefully we’ve done enough planning and those guys are ready to step in and be Major League starters.”