MESA, Ariz. – Things continue to go smoothly for A’s right-hander Jarrod Parker in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
He threw a 30-pitch simulated game Wednesday on a back field behind Hohokam Stadium. Pitching behind an L-screen, Parker used his fastball, curve and changeup in five separate “at-bats”, getting one grounder and three fly balls in the sequence.
It’s the second time facing hitters for Parker, who is six days shy of the one-year anniversary of his Tommy John procedure. To this point, he’s avoided the setbacks that often come with a rehab from elbow reconstruction.
The A’s are pointing to a June timetable for Parker to return. But things have gone so swimmingly that it appears Parker could conceivably be ready before then. The pitcher is wisely taking a cautious approach.
“There's every bone in my body that feels like I could be ready sooner,” Parker said. “But I think the smart side of me says be cautious, trust the people that that's their thing, that's their expertise. Trust that and just put in the work and do it the right way. Right now, it's take what you take out of it and move on.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin said Parker’s stuff looked sharp and his mechanics seemed sound.
“He’s throwing free and easy, he’s not pushing it,” Melvin said. “He was dropping a couple breaking balls in for strikes. He’s throwing his changeup like he normally does, and you see some of the swings behind the fastball. That’s what he’s all about.”
Parker is putting his slider aside for now and concentrating on honing his curve ball, a pitch that he featured heavily while coming up through the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system.
“It's in my roots a little bit,” he said.
Added Melvin: “You’re trying to look for everything (in evaluating him). First and foremost, it’s the health and how he feels, and he feels great. Then you’re looking at mechanics … He’s not out ahead of himself. That’s the second time he’s thrown curve balls (to hitters) and he’s dropping it in for strikes, which means he’s staying back and mechanically throwing ball the way he wants to.”
At this point, Parker is slightly ahead of fellow right-hander A.J. Griffin, who underwent Tommy John surgery about a month after Parker.