The MRI results are back on Oakland Athletics’ pitcher Jarrod Parker, and they aren’t good.
On May 8 last year, Oakland Athletics’ starter Jarrod Parker suffered a fractured medial epicondyle in his right elbow during a rehab start with Triple-A Nashville. The injury ended his season, and considering it followed two Tommy John surgeries on that same elbow, the question arose as to whether or not the injury would force a premature end to his career. On Thursday, Parker re-injured that same elbow while throwing to live batters for the first time this Spring.
At the time, Thursday’s injury didn’t seem as bad as last May’s, even to those who observed it. Athletics’ trainer Nick Paparesta told reporter John Hickey:
"“I think you’ve all seen that video from Nashville last year. When the pitch occurred, and we saw his initial reaction to it, I think obviously we felt the same thing. Afterwards, spending some time talking to him, he was able to move the elbow back and was able to do something. It did not appear to be as serious as that issue. We are pretty optimistic that things are going to go well.”"
However, on Friday, the news took a grim turn for the worst. Parker’s elbow had originally hurt on the opposite side from his 2015 fracture, leading the staff to believe it was less serious. But when he woke up the following day, the pain was on the same side. MLB’s Doug Miller shared David Forst’s thoughts about the news:
"“He woke up feeling worse, and it was swollen. The one thing he did say was that he kind of expected the worst… Bob, Nick and I met with him this morning to give him the news. He responded as you would expect. He had an idea based on how he felt when he woke up this morning, but I think just getting the news was crushing for him. It’s been two-plus long years of this, and as an organization, we’ll be fine – the A’s will be fine – but you just feel for him.”"
Forst is right in several ways. The Athletics had already considered moving Parker to the bullpen in an effort to put less stress on his arm, so the team will go on without him. However, that doesn’t change the fact that this news is devastating for Parker. Rehab is far from easy, and it’s unfortunate and unfair that someone who has worked as hard as Parker would encounter another setback. One can’t help but to feel sympathetic for him over this heartbreaking development.
The Athletics stated on Friday that Parker and the medical staff will not make an official decision about a rehab plan or his future with the organization this weekend, as they give him some time to consider what he wants to do.
At some point, despite the amount of effort Parker has put in, he and the team may decide that his elbow simply isn’t able to handle the stress that comes with pitching any longer. Pitching is not a natural motion, and regardless of what level of baseball someone plays at, the elbow was still not designed to withstand such high-velocity throwing for long periods of time. However, Parker is incredibly talented and dedicated to his craft, and if he does return, everyone will be rooting for him as he continues to rehab.
It will be up to Parker as to whether he continues his journey back to the big leagues. Regardless of his decision, this is incredibly disappointing news after everything he has endured to this point.