SAN FRANCISCO – A’s right-hander Jarrod Parker underwent an innovative type of elbow surgery in Los Angeles this week that did not necessitate repair of his ulnar collateral ligament, or Tommy John-style surgery.
That’s the good news. Doctors were pleased with the results, according to A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta, and Parker was found to have full tension and stability within his elbow joint during a follow-up visit.
What it means regarding Parker’s future, and whether baseball is part of it, remains to be seen. He firmly said that he wants to try to come back from his fourth major elbow surgery since 2009. Considering the pitcher faces another lengthy rehab, he has lots of time to sort things out.
Dr. Neal ElAttrache was able to re-attach Parker’s ulnar collateral ligament to the humerus bone, and also re-attach the flexor tendon back to the humerus bone. Bone chips and bone spurs were removed.
Parker, who twice has undergone Tommy John surgery, originally required this latest surgery after fracturing the medial epicondyle in his elbow for the second time.
“There was not enough large pieces of bone left to re-structure that medial epicondyle,” Paparesta said. “So instead they were able to take the (flexor) tendon and ligament currently there, and attach those to new bone. They just cleaned out the whole issue there previously, and the bone that had broken up, and attached everything back to good new bone.”
Long story short, it’s a unique procedure that has been done before with success, according to Paparesta. But it’s one that rarely is required. Parker’s elbow is currently in a splint, but he will return to Arizona on Saturday and soon have his elbow put in a brace. He won’t be able to begin strengthening exercises for about three months, and Paparesta wouldn’t speculate on when Parker, 27, might be able to resume throwing again.
“I think honestly, when all is said and done, it’s best to just leave Jarrod alone and let him kind of sit back and reflect on the things that have happened,” Paparesta said, “what he’s accomplished in this game and what he’s looking to accomplish in the future.
“I think ultimately we want to get him back to where he has a full functioning elbow and he’s able to do anything he wants to do in his life again. And whether that’s compete in baseball or be able to go out and play catch with his kids, we want to make sure we can do whatever is best for him to do that.”
[STIGLICH: A's 2016 projected 25-man roster]
Paparesta was asked if anyone, to his knowledge, had undergone as much elbow surgery as Parker and come back to play in the majors again.
“As far as the extensiveness and repeat surgeries Jarrod’s had, I would say no,” Paparesta said.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said he had yet to talk to Parker but would probably do so in the next couple days. He echoed the sentiment that Parker will benefit from time to contemplate his situation.
“Each and every time he’s had these things done, it’s another mental grind,” Melvin said. “And rehab allows you time not only to look at it a certain way, but maybe look at it from all different angles and, emotionally, you may change as it goes along. My guess is he could go through the emotional gamut during his rehab again, which is very tough. But he’s a strong-minded kid. He’s done it before and I know, speaking to him before he had surgery, it’s something he wants to do again.”
Paparesta said Parker likely would spend time away from the team during a stretch of his rehab and will benefit from that, suggesting that being around teammates makes a player feel an obligation to return quickly to try to help out on the field.
“I wouldn’t even look at the calendar,” Paparesta said. “I’d take the calendar and throw it in the garbage.”