In for John Hickey, who will be back for the weekend …
To see John Jaso in the A’s clubhouse, you would think nothing is wrong. He seems fine, happy, healthy. But that’s the deal with concussions — you can’t see what’s really going on.
In a meeting with the media Friday night before the A’s opened a three-game series with Cleveland, the Oakland catcher told a different story, and from what he was saying, it certainly would seem iffy that he’ll make it back before the end of the season. After being examined with Pittsburgh concussion specialist Dr. Michael “Micky” Collins earlier this week, Jaso was advised that it would be three weeks minimum before he could resume baseball activity, “and that was being generous.”
“Basically, he said I am still symptomatic, and it would be very unwise to go out and keep playing while I’m still having symptoms,” Jaso said. “My brain is still injured, basically, and as soon as I might take more impact or make a wrong movement, I’m going to reaggravate the concussion I’ve already had and I could really prolong this thing.”
The good news, Jaso said, is that he’ll recover 100 percent eventually. But he doesn’t know when “eventually” will be, and he knows time is running out. Once he’s cleared to resume activity, he has to get back in baseball playing/hitting shape, and at catcher, that can be even more challenging. Jaso is maintaining his conditioning and he will soon begin hitting off a tee, but it’s going to be a very slow process.
Jaso must go through brain stimulation exercises on a daily basis to try and speed up the process.
“They say it might even make me a better hitter,” he said.
Jaso still gets random headaches, nausea, dizziness and cold sweats. When he does any kind of up/down movement, he feels something tantamount to car sickness. His eyes can’t re-train focus if he looks at something in the foreground and then tries to adjust to something in the background.
“It wasn’t something I could fake, or anything like that,” he said.
Jaso last played on July 24, but after taking hard foul tips off his catcher’s mask in back-to-back games. He was placed on the special 7-day “concussion disabled list” but his situation has dragged on longer than anybody had imagined, to the point Jaso admitted he was scared what he might hear from Collins, that he might not be able to play anymore, period. But knowing he will play again, it now just hurts wanting to get back in there.
“I really want to rush back,” he said. “I was hoping he would tell me it would be a little sooner. But I just have to do what he told me and try to keep my body ready when I do come back. I won’t have to get in shape.”
Jaso said he wanted to see what the Coliseum’s football configuration looked like one day while rehabbing, and he took the elevator to the press box. It wasn’t a good idea.
“I’ve never had vertigo or anything, but when I got up there, it was immediate,” he said. “I had a loss of balance — it was really weird.”
Manager Bob Melvin said he won’t even consider allowing Jaso to play until he’s convinced he’s 100 percent.
“First and foremost, we’re worried about him, and based on what Dr. Collins said, he will recover fully,” Melvin said. “That’s the first thing that makes you feel better about it. But the timetable on this thing, we just don’t know yet and we’re certainly not going to anything until he can do baseball activities, and that’s when you get a better idea of when he can come back.
“Whether or not he comes back this year, I’m not sure. We certainly hold out hope for that. But I don’t think anybody could predict at this point.”
Complicating the process is that three more weeks of no baseball activity takes it in to mid-September, when most minor league teams have wrapped up, so rehab game opportunities become more problematic.
Melvin said he’s happy with the job Stephen Vogt has done in Jaso’s stead.
“We’re lucky to have a guy like that,” Melvin said. “He wasn’t even with us in spring training, but he’s done such a good job with the pitching staff and he’s very prepared for each game.”
–Coco Crisp won’t start for the fifth straight game. His right hand is still sore, as much from the injection he had to aid his recovery.
–Yoenis Cespedes is center field tonight against the Cleveland Indians, his first time in center since May 14. Melvin isn’t worried, noting that center is his natural position and going back there will be like “riding a bike.”
–Brett Anderson will make his first rehab appearance in Sacramento Saturday night — 2 innings or 35 pitches, whichever comes first.
–Eric Sogard pronounced himself fine after getting his legs taken out from under him by Chris Carter’s broken bat, which struck Sogard in the leg while he was catching Carter’s soft liner. Sogard said he never saw the flying bat. Jed Lowrie, his right knee feeling much better, is back at shortstop.
–Lots of familiar old faces on the field tonight before the game — Jason Giambi and Nick Swisher are in town with the Tribe, and Rickey Henderson was here as well.