OAKLAND – The A’s are cautiously optimistic they will get injured starting pitchers A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker back sometime in June.
Parker is 11 months into rehab from Tommy John surgery and Griffin is at the 10-month mark. Griffin attended Saturday’s FanFest and expressed optimism about his recovery to this point. He threw twice off the mound in November, and after letting his body rest following those sessions, he’s scheduled to resume throwing off the mound next week.
“It’s tough man, it’ll test you,” Griffin said of the long rehab. “It’s just like anything in life though. You’re confronted with adversity, and it’s how you decide to react to it.”
The timetable for return from reconstructive elbow surgery is generally 12 to 18 months. With spring training beginning Feb. 19 and the regular season starting April 6, the A’s have added rotation depth to hold down the fort until Griffin and Parker return. But manager Bob Melvin mentioned June as an approximate target date.
“I think we’ll get a better handle on that when we get to spring training,” Melvin said. “We’re going to be be a little more careful with Jarrod because it’s his second (Tommy John procedure). I saw A.J. the other day. He’s chomping at the bit to get back. We’re probably gonna have to pull the reins in on him. But if you look at June, and I’m getting ahead of myself, it’s probably around there.”
Griffin said he doesn’t expect to pitch in Cactus League games, but the progress of both him and Parker throughout the six-week stay in Arizona should help the A’s zero in on a more concrete target date for the right-handers.
As for other FanFest tidbits:
Marcus Semien clearly has the inside track on the everyday shortstop job, but Melvin was careful not to anoint him the starter.
“I think as we sit here right now, we’re gonna give him every opportunity to be our shortstop,” Melvin said. “Now, you want them to go out and prove it, and I know he wants to go out and prove it. But he has the ability to be that guy.”
One position that remains hazy is left field, where Sam Fuld, Craig Gentry and others could all see time.
“I like the Gentry/Fuld factor,” Melvin said. “(Mark) Canha has played some outfield, (Ben) Zobrist has played some outfield. We can rotate him out there on a particular day and give someone else a day off. Again, we’re gonna have a lot of moving parts.”
Stephen Vogt, recovering from offseason foot surgery, probably won’t be catching in exhibitions right off the bat. Melvin said Vogt will catch bullpens at the start of camp and gradually ease his way into game action. The team’s medical staff has told Melvin that Vogt should be on track for Opening Night barring setbacks. With the offseason trades of Derek Norris and John Jaso, it appears Vogt and newcomer Josh Phegley will platoon behind the plate.
The Q & A sessions always are a highlight of FanFest. One fan grilled general manager Billy Beane on why he traded Yoenis Cespedes (Beane stuck to his guns and said Jon Lester was too special a pitcher to pass on acquiring). Another fan asked Beane who had the task of calling Josh Donaldson and telling him he’d be playing baseball in Canada.
Donaldson, of course, was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays in November.
“What’s wrong with Canada?” Beane replied.
In another session, players took a shot predicting how many stolen bases the teammate seated next to them would have.
Josh Reddick predicted 37 for Coco Crisp, a realistic guess. Then Crisp predicted 12 for Billy Butler, which perhaps wasn’t so realistic given the look on Butler’s face.