Jarrod Parker broke out his curve in one of his twice-weekly bullpen sessions Tuesday as he used his full repertoire for the first time since his Tommy John surgery 49 weeks ago.
Or at least as full a repertoire as he’s likely to throw this season as he gets over having the ligament replaced in his right arm.
“It was 43 pitches, fastballs, changeups and curves,’’ Parker said. “The slider? Not yet. If I wait it’ll come back. And it’s no big deal if I don’t throw it this year.’’
The slider takes more of a bite out of the arm as it heals, and Parker isn’t ready to go down that route. He’s had two Tommy John surgeries now, and caution is his byword.
“I’m going to be cautious with the slider; I’m more comfortable with the curve, the right-hander said. “There’s more of a hand motion in throwing the curve. The slider puts more strain (on the transplanted area).’’
As he pushes for a mid-season return to the rotation, adding the curve from the mound was a big moment for Parker. He’d thrown some curves on flat ground as a tuneup. And next up is the start of sessions against live hitters in the near future.
For now, adding the curve is progress.
“There are certain hurdles you like to get over, and this is one of them,’’ manager Bob Melvin said of Parker. “This is the first bullpen where he will be throwing all his pitches.’’
Parker had thrown a few curves last week, but “he was just spinning those,’’ Melvin said, indicating that Parker was ready to try snapping off a few to test his arm.
Melvin said the slider puts more strain on the reconstructed arm, so he will be closely monitored.
A.J. Griffin, also coming back from Tommy John surgery, also threw Tuesday. His surgery took place five weeks after Parker’s in 2014, has a more sedate repertoire.
“It was 35 pitches, all fastballs and changeups,’’ Griffin said. “It feels good.’’
–Mark Canha, trying to make the A’s as a Rule 5 player who can contribute in left and right in addition to first base, was looking at getting his first spring at-bat against World Series star Madison Bumgarner of the Giants.
“The nerves will be there with the start of the spring,’’ he said. “And a little more with facing him. But it will be fun. I’ve waited five months to get back on the field. I can’t wait.’’
For the record, Canha struck out to end the first inning after the A’s had scored three runs.