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A’s catch big break with news Cook isn’t headed for surgery

#A's setup man Ryan Cook got some good news -- he doesn't need surgery

#A’s setup man Ryan Cook got some good news — he doesn’t need surgery

A’s reliever Ryan Cook said there was never a doubt in his mind that the forearm pain he was feeling was not serious.

He might have been the only one. Forearm pain in hard-throwing pitchers is generally the precursor to Tommy John-style surgery where a ligament from the arm or a leg is attached in the elbow.

It means a recovery period of 12-15 months, and losing the hard-throwing Cook for that period of time would have been a severe blow to the Oakland bullpen.

And there were expectations that he might well be on his way to join teammates Jarod Parker and A.J. Griffin as members of the A’s Tommy John club for 2014.

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Griffin looking missing a year after Tommy John surgery

A.J. Griffin had season-ending elbow surgery Wednesday in Houston.

A.J. Griffin had season-ending elbow surgery Wednesday in Houston.

Look for Oakland starting pitcher A.J. Griffin to need about 12 months or a little longer to get back on the mound for the A’s after he underwent Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery Tuesday in Houston.

Griffin had Houston-based Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff take a tendon from his right wrist transplant it into place of his right ulnar collateral ligament. A’s trainer Nick Paparesta said Mehlhoff was “excited’’ about how well the surgery had gone.

The plan now is for Griffin to take four months off without throwing, then spend two months throwing on the side to build up his arm strength. At about the six-month post Griffin should start throwing off the mound. At or about the 12-month mark the A’s will start to think in terms of having him face competition.

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A’s learn they will be minus surgery-bound Griffin for 2014

A.J. Griffin will have season-ending elbow surgery Wednesday in Houston.

A.J. Griffin will have season-ending elbow surgery Wednesday in Houston.

(UPDATED)

The A’s have lost a second member of the 2014 starting rotation to elbow surgery with the news that A.J. Griffin will undergo elbow surgery Wednesday in Houston.

Griffin was in Houston Tuesday to see Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff for a second opinion on the state of his elbow. Dr. Mehlhoff will perform the elbow surgery, with a typical recovery time of about 12 months, depending on the type of surgery involved.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said he wasn’t sure of the type of surgery that would be needed (Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery is considered the likeliest option) but said he’d talked to Griffin and said the right-hander was taking the news in a positive way.

“He’s a happy-go-lucky guy,’’ the manager said. “This means he can see the light at the end of the tunnel to be able to pitch next season.’’

Griffin and Jarrod Parker both were supposed to be members of the rotation this year, but both found they couldn’t go forward pitching in pain mid-March, and Parker had surgery shortly thereafter. Griffin was told that three weeks of rest might get his right elbow back in form, but it didn’t happen.

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Straily the latest of the brotherhood to give A’s top quality

Dan Straily enjoying being part of the brotherhood of A's starters

Dan Straily enjoying being part of the brotherhood of A’s starters

Dan Straily says there’s a reason the A’s starting pitching keeps getting better.

With Straily throwing seven one-run innings Thursday in a 6-1 win over the Twins, Oakland starters have allowed three runs or fewer in all nine of their games this year. The last time they did that, 1990, they wound up in the World Series.

It’s way too early to be thinking such lofty thoughts now, but the fact is that while pitching is a very individual pursuit, the A’s starting corps of Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chavez and Straily – No. 5 starter Tommy Milone makes his debut Friday in Seattle – have a nice bond.

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Gray will start opener with Kazmir, Chavez, Straily, Milone also in rotation; Cook, Rodriguez, Gentry start season on DL

Sonny Gray is the last  man standing in drive to start opener for the A's

Sonny Gray is the last man standing in drive to start opener for the A’s

Sonny Gray got the job that just about everyone but Sonny Gray expected him to get when A’s manager Bob Melvin named him the opening day starter.

Gray will be followed in the rotation by Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chavez, Dan Straily and Tommy Milone.

The opening day start was expected originally to go to Jarrod Parker, but the competition opened up when it was learned that Parker will miss the season and undergo tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery.

Even with Parker, Gray was considered a contender for the opening day assignment by manager Bob Melvin, who isn’t afraid of putting the 24-year-old in the spotlight.

Last year in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, Melvin went with Gray over 18-game winner Bartolo Colon, and while the A’s lost that game, it wasn’t because Gray didn’t pitch well.

“He’s very quickly become one of those guys,’’ Melvin said of Gray, who was 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA after his promotion to the big leagues last year and then pitched eight shutout innings in Game 2 of the playoffs against Detroit before taking the 3-0 loss in Game 5.

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Analyzing Parker’s chances of a good Tommy John outcome

I spent some time talking with an orthopedic surgeon and came out of feeling a little less confident about the chances of a full recovery for Jarrod Parker when he undergoes Tommy John surgery next week.

At first it seemed to me that the chances for Parker to come back as good as new after what would be his second Tommy John surgery were a little more than 50-50.

But after my conversation with the surgeon, who has worked on pro, college and recreational athletes for years and who asked not to be named, it seems that maybe the chances are a little less than 50-50.

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Game 5 start in ALCS vs. Tigers put Gray in line for opener

Sonny Gray is the last  man standing in drive to start opener for the A's

Sonny Gray is the last man standing in drive to start opener for the A’s March 31.

Nothing is official, but the A’s have an opening day starting pitcher.

His name is Sonny Gray.

The 24-year-old, with just 10 big league starts to his name, was being considered for the job all along, but it seemed likely the call would go to Jarrod Parker or, perhaps, newcomer Scott Kazmir.

Parker is out for the season with the news that he needs a second Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow and forearm.

As for Kazmir, he was scratched from his start Monday because of triceps pain. He was pain-free Tuesday and wanted to pitch, but the A’s have decided that he’ll throw a bullpen session, probably Wednesday, then return to the starting rotation Saturday.

That rules him out for the opener, because to get to March 31 against the Indians, he’d either have to pitch on long rest or on short rest. The A’s aren’t going to have him do that for the sake of one game, so that leaves Gray to pitch the opener and Kazmir to follow him in Game 2 against Cleveland, the team for which he pitched last year.

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With options gone, Gimenez, Taylor may move on

With under two weeks to go in spring training, the A’s have more roster decisions to make before opening day than they would have believed even a few days ago, thanks to news that Jarrod Parker (Tommy John surgery) and A.J. Griffin (elbow/forearm) won’t be available when the Indians come to town March 31.

It’s not all about the pitching, however, even if it seems like it sometimes.

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Parker trying to get mind around 2nd Tommy John surgery

Jarrod Parker returned to the A’s Tuesday, the morning after learning he would need a second Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow and forearm.

He’d had a little time to get his mind around the repeat surgery, which will take place next Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla. under Dr. James Andrews’ care.

“I was upset,’’ Parker said of his mindset coming out of the Monday meeting with Andrews. “It’s not one of those things that you can go in prepared for. You think you are, but really, you can’t prepare for that.’’

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What are the chances of a complete return for Parker?

The A’s are hitting the reset button with their starting rotation with the news that probable opening day starter Jarrod Parker will undergo Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow and miss the entire 2014 season.

It’s the second time since 2009 that Parker will have Dr. James Andrews perform the surgery. There is a relatively small sample size to determine the success rate of pitchers who have had multiple Tommy John operations, but it’s becoming more and more frequent.

“Unfortunately, there is more data on this than there was four years ago,’’ Oakland assistant general manager David Forst said. “In the last week (the subject) has come up a number of times. It’s hard to predict right now. You don’t know the recovery rate on guys with a second Tommy John. It’s unfortunate that it’s more frequent.’’

According to some medical estimates, the success for the surgery is 90 percent; after a second surgery the number drops to 60 percent.

Former A’s reliever Jason Isringhausen had the surgery three times and came back to pitch each time.

Talking about the multiple surgeries with the Washington Post in 2012, Isringhausen laid out the path ahead of Parker.

“You really have to follow the protocol and do what is asked of you by the doctors and therapists so you don’t re-injure the graft in your elbow,’’ Isringhausen said. “I think that’s the main thing: patience. Because you feel really good really quick, and you want to throw, and then all you can do when you do that is tear it up again.’’

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