PEORIA, Ariz. – Jarrod Parker stashed another encouraging bullpen session in the books Sunday, and the A’s right-hander says he thinks he’ll be ready to pitch in a spring training game before the A’s leave Arizona.
Beyond that, Parker isn’t venturing any guesses as to his readiness for the start of the regular season.
After two seasons lost to Tommy John surgery and an elbow fracture, “expectations are not in my vocabulary,” he said. “Just kind of go day to day and be in tune and see how I feel and give what I got that day. I think what’s important is to finish this season healthy.”
The A’s have, and will continue to proceed cautiously with Parker. The plan remains to stretch him out as a starter, but there’s also the option of using him out of the bullpen. Regardless, it seems likely that he’ll log some rehab innings in the minors before the A’s consider him for the big league staff.
The next step is facing hitters in live batting practice, which Parker says will take place Thursday. On Sunday, he threw two separate 20-pitch sessions with a batter standing in on each side of the plate.
He mixed in his changeup with his fastball.
“I want to be able to throw it on any count, both sides of the plate, which is gonna be important for me,” Parker said of the changeup. “I’m comfortable with it right now and happy with the way I threw it today.”
Eventually, Parker said he’ll mix in some breaking stuff, but there’s no urgency to do that right now.
“I’m comfortable moving my fastball around, up and down, being smart enough to pitch with the fastball,” he said.
Early in camp, Parker said the decision on whether he’ll eventually start or relieve will probably be a natural one based on how he continues to fare as he increases his workload.
Should the A’s eventually decide to use him out of the bullpen, it’s conceivable Parker could succeed as a two-pitch pitcher – fastball and changeup. If he makes it back as a starter, having a third pitch to call upon would serve him well.