Programming note: Rays-A’s coverage starts today at 6:30 p.m. with A’s Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
OAKLAND – As the A’s have added piece after piece to a revamped starting rotation, Jarrod Parker can only watch, and cheer, and wait patiently.
The right-hander is about four months into his rehab from a second reconstructive surgery on his right elbow. It’s as grinding as it was the first time he went through it in 2010 while in Arizona’s farm system, but Monday was a good day for Parker.
He got outside and played catch for the first time since his March 25 procedure. It was a short session from 45 feet, but it’s a breakthrough in the long road back from “Tommy John” surgery, which typically sidelines a pitcher from 12 to 18 months.
“To see some progress is good,” Parker said Monday afternoon. “I don’t think I’ll be a person who ever gets excited about those things, but you take them as they are.”
In light of the A’s trading for starters Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel over the past month, it’s easy to forget about Parker and A.J. Griffin. Both are recovering from “Tommy John” procedures and both were penciled in for the starting rotation when this season began.
[NEWS: Crisp nearing return to lineup]
But they’re expected to factor heavily into the A’s 2015 plans. Parker is about a month ahead of Griffin in his rehab, and barring any significant setbacks, it’s conceivable he could be ready by Opening Day next season or shortly after.
Lester and Hammel will both be free agents after the season. Lester will be one of the more sought after pitchers on the open market, and there’s a strong chance he’ll be out of the A’s price range. Hammel might end up being a short-term rental as well.
Parker said he’s excited to watch all the pieces of the A’s current rotation come together, but it’s also tough being on the sidelines during a time when there are such big expectations for the A’s.
“It’s tough, but it’s just how you spin it,” Parker said. “If I can channel it into what I’m doing, it’s one of those things where it’s great to be a part of it. Nothing that I’m gonna do will affect things, but to make some progress helps push things.”
Griffin said he hopes to begin throwing soon.