For a guy who’s not healthy enough to pitch quite yet, Eric O’Flaherty is sure of himself.
He’s sure that he could be pitching again by late May, early June at the latest after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
And then he laughs.
“That’s why I don’t make those decisions,’’ he said.
The A’s would like nothing better than to have O’Flaherty, one of the most effective left-handed pitchers in the game the last four seasons, on the mound ASAP. But looking at the big picture, the brain trust knows recovery from Tommy John surgery is a 12-month endeavor for the most part.
There’s no advantage to rushing O’Flaherty back knowing that when he does return – the A’s are looking at sometime around the All-Star break in mid-July – he could be the extra ammunition needed to win the day in the American League West.
“It’s hard not to want to get out there with all the rest of the guys,’’ O’Flaherty said. “It’s all about being patient. That’s not always easy.’’
The A’s are looking forward to having him aboard knowing that in the last three seasons the 28-year-old has compiled a 1.45 ERA in 161 appearances, the lowest ERA for any reliever with 125 or more innings pitched. Overall with Seattle in 2006-08 and Atlanta in 2009-13 he is 20-9 with a 2.85 career ERA.
“O’Flaherty is a great addition,’’ outfielder Josh Reddick said. “It’s going to be a while before he’s ready, I know, but having seen what he did with the Braves, he’s a great pickup.’’
O’Flaherty said there is nothing he’d like better than to make a quick return, but he knows “I just have to wait.’’
“I told my agent this year that I wanted to come to a team that has a chance to compete, even if I was only going to pitch half a year,’’ O’Flaherty said. “Everybody knows how well this team competes.’’
–When the A’s went to Kansas City last July, reliever Ryan Cook spent part of a day visiting with Nick LeGrande, a 14-year-old with a rare blood disorder who threw out what was billed as the longest first pitch in history on June 12 using telerobotics to deliver the ball from Kansas City.
Cook, accompanied on the trip by relievers Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins, has maintained contact with LeGrande and his family, and he said there’s a decent chance that LeGrande may be able to make a shorter throw.
LeGrande’s health has improved enough, Cook said, that the family is planning on a visit to the Bay Area in part of visit the A’s sometime this summer.
“All the signs are positive,’’ Cook said. “Everything I hear when we talk is that he’s getting better.’’