Programming note: A’s Insider Joe Stiglich is in Arizona; check back for his coverage throughout spring training and watch SportsNet Central nightly at 6 and 10:30 p.m. for all the day’s MLB news.
PHOENIX – Pitching depth is what makes the Oakland A’s arguably the team to beat in the American League West.
They just didn’t expect to call upon it this soon.
With Friday’s news that Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin are both likely to miss the start of the regular season with arm injuries, the A’s will rely on reinforcements such as Tommy Milone and Jesse Chavez to fill their shoes until they return.
More will be known after Parker and Griffin visit doctors. Parker, a potential Opening Day starter, is experiencing forearm soreness, a red flag for a young pitcher who as a minor leaguer missed the 2010 season following reconstructive elbow surgery. Parker will fly to Alabama and be examined by elbow specialist Dr. James Andrews on Monday.
Griffin, who has elbow soreness, was scheduled to be examined by Phoenix-based specialist Dr. Doug Freedberg on Friday and get an MRI.
With Opening Day just 2 ½ weeks away, it’s a strong bet both starters hit the disabled list even if their injuries are relatively minor.
“Potentially it’s a couple blows for us, but it’s also why we have the depth we have,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We have Tommy Milone, and Jesse Chavez is pitching really well here too. Until we get a final evaluation of what is going on with these two guys, we’re very comfortable with Milone and Chavez.”
Milone was a regular in Oakland’s rotation for all of 2012 and much of 2013, though he also spent time in the minors last season. With the emergence of Sonny Gray and Dan Straily in the rotation last season, and the offseason signing of Scott Kazmir, Milone appeared on the outside looking in as far as a starting spot until Friday’s news.
But he’s won 25 games for the A’s over the past two seasons, and he contributed on short notice last September with two quality spot starts.
“Obviously an opportunity is something great,” Milone said. “But it’s not something, as a team, we want to happen to our starting staff, especially with two guys like that.”
Chavez, a long reliever for the A’s last year, has been excellent so far this spring and appeared to have locked up a bullpen job. He has yet to give up a run in four outings (12 2/3 innings), with 12 strikeouts and just two walks.
Just two of Chavez’s 191 big league appearances have been starts, but he offers a full repertoire of pitches and has mixed them all effectively this spring.