MESA, Ariz. – Facing a fourth major surgery on his throwing elbow, A’s right-hander Jarrod Parker said Monday he has every intention of working his way back and trying to resume his career.
Addressing the media for the first time since suffering a second fracture of his elbow, Parker spoke quietly to the group of reporters huddled around him in the home dugout at Hohokam Stadium. He didn’t pretend to know all the answers about what exactly will be done during his April 1 surgery, or how the procedure might impact his road ahead.
But, at age 27, he seems resolute about wanting to give it another shot after having undergone two Tommy John surgeries and another operation to repair the first fracture of the medial epicondyle in his elbow.
Asked how he’s able to keep mustering a positive attitude through all the demoralizing injuries, Parker replied: “Just always realizing it could be worse. It’s still a game, and I’m a grown man playing a kid’s game, and I have chance to do that. There’s always a lot worse that can happen whether in this game or outside of baseball.”
It’s unknown what exactly will be done when Dr. Neal ElAttrache goes in to perform the surgery. A third Tommy John procedure is a possibility if the elbow ligament is damaged and needs repair again.
Dr. James Andrews, one of the trailblazers in performing the Tommy John procedure, handled Parker’s first two reconstructive surgeries as well as the procedure to fix his first fracture.
ElAttrache, based in Southern California, has performed a wide variety of surgeries on numerous high-profile athletes. He is affiliated with the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, which is known for innovative surgical methods. Parker said he’s all for a fresh approach to treating his elbow, given all that he’s been through.
“I think at this point that’s where we’re at,” he said. “From what I understand, … the technique he’s using is what’s needed at this point. Nobody ever expected my elbow to be in a situation where we needed to use a different technique or something has to be done differently. We never thought we’d be in a situation like that, so going forward I think it’s the right choice and we’re doing the right thing getting it done and moving on.”
Parker said he’s ready to undertake another lengthy rehab even if it’s not geared toward prepping him for another attempt at pitching. But he wants to take another shot at getting back on the mound. There is no known precedent for a Major League pitcher returning from, or even experiencing, the history of elbow trouble Parker has had – two Tommy John surgeries and two fractures.
“I just have to keep the same attitude I have, push through it just like the last couple times, continue with the right attitude and be who I am,” he said. “Luckily, modern medicine is what it is.”
A's manager Bob Melvin marveled at the mental strength Parker has shown as he's fought injuries that have sidelined him since the 2013 season.
"It’s tough to even comprehend," Melvin said. "I don’t know how anyone standing here could understand how he’s feeling. Going forward, we’ll support him and see how he feels after he starts rehabbing it too.”
Parker was asked if the thought of retirement has crossed his mind.
“I mean, it’s there,” Parker said. “But at this point , I think I’ve put in enough effort, and I can put in more effort to continue to – I wouldn’t say push through this -- but keep giving myself more chances. I think that’s where I’m at right now.”