OAKLAND – A.J. Griffin may be venturing into the unknown in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, but he isn’t doing it alone.
He has an A’s teammate in Jarrod Parker who is recovering from the exact same reconstructive elbow surgery. In fact, Parker is rehabbing from his second Tommy John operation. And if Parker can act as a sounding board for Griffin, rest assured that Parker is just as happy to have Griffin to lean on himself.
“Staying positive is hard,” Parker said Wednesday. “It’s a lot easier with somebody else. The first time I went through Tommy John, with Arizona (in 2009), I was the only one at the spring training complex. So it was a little monotonous, a little boring.”
Recovery from the procedure generally takes 12 to 18 months, so both right-handers are sidelined for the entire 2014 season, at least. Parker, whose surgery was March 24, is several weeks ahead in his rehab than Griffin, 26, who went under the knife April 30.
There are physical hurdles to overcome as well as mental. Parker, 25, said he’ll try to help Griffin any way he can.
“Him being able to ask questions” is helpful, Parker said. “’ Is this a normal feeling? Is this gonna go away?’”
Pitching injuries, and the effectiveness with which pitchers recover from them, is playing out as a major storyline this season in the big leagues, and in the American League West in particular. The Texas Rangers, who have been decimated by injuries up and down their roster, learned Wednesday that starter Martin Perez might require Tommy John surgery. Another of their starters, Matt Harrison, continues to have back problems and might require spinal fusion surgery.
Both lefties could miss the rest of the season, leaving the Rangers with lots of rotation uncertainty beyond ace Yu Darvish.
Though A’s manager Bob Melvin wishes neither of his young pitchers were going through the long rehab process, he said Griffin can follow Parker’s lead and pick up on “the importance of rehabbing and taking it seriously. Because how you rehab has a lot to do with, one, how quickly you come back, and two, to be able to go through the wear and tear (of a full season) again. It is nice to have someone you can bounce some things off of.”
Griffin seemed in good spirits inside the A’s clubhouse Wednesday. He said he’s scheduled to get the stitches removed from his elbow Thursday. His arm is in a sling right now but he’ll soon switch to a brace. The sling isn’t the only noticeable difference with Griffin. He opted for convenience and is sporting a short haircut rather than the longer mop of hair he usually takes the mound with.
“I wouldn't have been able to maintain it,” Griffin said with a smile.
Parker said the inactivity is one of the toughest adjustments to make while recovering from Tommy John. One thing he’ll try to encourage Griffin to do is stay as involved with the team as possible.
“The toughest part is to sit there and watch. You wanna be out there,” Parker said. “Being a good teammate (is important), be there for the guys. Help out as much as you can. Any way you can try to get better each day is kind of what I think about. Do something, whether I’m eating healthy, or working out, doing extra cardio. Every day I just wanna get a little bit better, feel a little bit better.”