PHOENIX -- A’s right-hander A.J. Griffin will be shut down from throwing for three weeks while he rests his ailing right elbow.
That assures Griffin will begin the season on the disabled list, and given the time he’ll need to build up his arm strength after resuming throwing, Oakland figures to be without Griffin in the rotation for most of April.
But the A’s got relatively good news from Griffin’s doctor visit Friday, as an MRI showed tendinitis in his elbow but no ligament damage. That means reconstructive elbow – or “Tommy John” – surgery shouldn’t be necessary.
“We’re just trying to get me back to 100 percent where I can go back to being the pitcher that I am,” Griffin said Saturday morning. “It’s tough. You want to be out there competing and contributing to a winning environment. It’s tough to be on the sidelines.”
Jarrod Parker – who was the front runner to start Opening Night – also appears headed for the D.L. with tightness in his right forearm. He’ll be examined Monday by Dr. James Andrews in Florida, not Alabama as reporters were told Friday.
Parker said the current pain he’s feeling is a bit different from what he felt last postseason, when elbow issues might have left him unavailable for the American League Championship Series had the A’s made it that far.
He said his elbow felt better over the winter with several months of rest, but things changed once he began throwing in Cactus League games.
“It’s tough to tell. Everyone’s arm is sore,” Parker said. “It’s just a matter of what is normal and what needs to be addressed.”
He tried pitching through the discomfort in the hope it would subside. But manager Bob Melvin noticed Parker looked different while playing catch Thursday and called Parker in for a talk.
“That’s always how I’ve been. I’ve never been good at saying something hurts,” Parker said. “It’s tough for me to do. (Melvin) could tell, (pitching coach) Curt (Young) could tell it was bothering me.”
Still unknown: Is Parker’s injury relatively minor, and will a few weeks of rest do the trick? Or is it a longer term issue? He had “Tommy John” surgery (performed by Andrews) while still in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, which sidelined him the entire 2010 season.
He’s remained relatively healthy since then, at least until the elbow issues re-surfaced in October.
Elbow tendinitis kept Griffin off Oakland's A.L.D.S. roster last season. Now the same issue will land him on the D.L. to start 2014.
Griffin said the elbow issue never completely went away over the winter, and it showed in his spring outings. He surrendered 19 hits and 10 earned runs over 8 2/3 innings (three starts).
“I felt it a little bit when I started throwing again in the offseason,” Griffin said. “We’ve been doing a lot of treatment, trying to get everything working right. With the innings (he threw in exhibitions) and with the tendinitis, it just hasn’t been very fun. It started affecting the quality of pitches I threw.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin was asked whether the team was monitoring Griffin’s condition throughout the winter.
“Very much so,” he said. “The bullpens were good. It’s once he got into games that it started bothering him some. But it came to where we had to do something about it the other night when it started to bother him more so than it had been.”
Without two expected members of their five-man rotation to start the season, Melvin said the A’s will likely turn to Tommy Milone and Jesse Chavez to fill in. Milone takes the ball Saturday in a 3:05 p.m. split-squad game against the Giants in Scottsdale.
Arnold Leon, a minor leaguer who Melvin said moves up in the rotation pecking order now, starts in a 1:05 p.m. game against Texas at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.