There’s no getting around it, elbow and forearm injuries are no good thing for a starting pitcher. Add into the fact that the injuries are to the likely opening day starter, Jarrod Parker, and rotation mate A.J. Griffin, and you have some cause for panic around the A’s rotation these days.
With regards to Parker, widely considered to be the A’s ace headed into the season, the growing concern is that he could be headed towards a second Tommy John surgery as he heads to have his ailing elbow and forearm checked out by Dr. James Andrews. Griffin was scheduled to have an MRI in Phoenix yesterday, though the results have not yet been announced.
Even if there is no ligament damage found in the arms of Parker and Griffin, with only two weeks of spring training remaining, both players will need rest and then rehabilitation time to regain their arm strength before being placed back into the rotation.
“Certainly the start of the season is in jeopardy,” Melvin told The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser regarding both pitchers. “Obviously, the potential is a couple of blows for us. But that’s why we have the depth we do.”
With the growing likelihood that both pitchers will miss the beginning of the season, it appears that Oakland will turn to Tommy Milone and Jesse Chavez to fill the vacant rotation spots, at least initially. The loss of Parker will push each remaining member of the rotation up one slot, making Sonny Gray the most likely candidate to start on opening day. Behind Gray, the A’s will have Scott Kazmir, Dan Straily, Milone and Chavez.
It’s worth noting that behind Milone and Chavez, the A’s also have Phil Humber, Drew Pomeranz and Josh Lindblom as options for the rotation. Arnold Leon (starting in place of Parker today) has also had an impressive spring and could give the A’s another option to fill one of the two open rotation spots.
“We’ll have somebody else step up if they’re not ready. That’s all it comes down to,” Straily told MLB.com’s Chris Gabel. “We’re not limited to five quality arms in this organization. We probably have seven, eight, nine quality guys who are big league ready right now to be starters.”
With Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry both looking like candidates to make the 25-man roster, the A’s could also use outfielder Michael Taylor (out of options and likely on his last chance with the organization) as part of a package in a trade to bring in a starter ready to step into the rotation if absolutely necessary. Taylor’s strong spring should help boost his value and give Oakland some options in dealing him, if that is the route they choose to go.
Parker previously had Tommy John surgery while with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009. Griffin has never had a history of elbow issues, though he did spend time on the disabled list in 2012 with shoulder issues.