Oakland Athletics starter suffers setback during rehab process

The Athletics can't catch a break with the injury news this year
Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Martin Gallegos of MLB.com reported on Tuesday that Oakland Athletics' starter Freddy Tarnok is scheduled to get an MRI on his surgically repaired hip after feeling discomfort during a bullpen session earlier this week.

Tarnok underwent season-ending surgery back in August of 2023 after suffering labrum and cartilage damage in his right hip. He was initially expected to return to action during spring training but he never pitched in Arizona and has now been shut down again.

He did work a couple bullpen sessions but they apparently didn't go well and Tarnok will visit with the doctors again to see if there's any remaining damage that needs to be repaired.

If he needs to go back under the knife, it'll be a brutal blow for the 25 year old. If that were the case, Tarnok would likely miss the entirety of the 2024 season. It's possible that he won't need surgery but he'll still likely be shut down for a few weeks, at the very least.

Can Freddy Tarnok return and compete in 2024?

Tarnok didn't pitch well for the Athletics in his brief stint in Oakland last year. In 14.2 innings, the righty posted a 4.91 ERA with a 16.9% walk rate. In 19 innings at Triple-A, he pitched to a 1.83 ERA but that was coupled with a 5.83 FIP and a dismal 13.9% strikeout rate.

Tarnok had a few good years in the Braves' system before coming over to Oakland in the Sean Murphy trade. He suffered a shoulder strain shortly after the start of the 2023 season and spent 103 days on the IL. He was healthy for about a month's worth of innings last summer before going down with the hip injury that ended his season.

It's unclear whether Tarnok was being considered for a major league job in 2024. Given the injury situation, he was likely due to start the year in the minors. He still has 2 option years remaining but if he misses significant time again this season, it'll be two straight years of poor injury luck.

Combine that with a lack of recent success and it could be the end of Tarnok's time in Oakland. The best case scenario here is that the doctors find nothing on the MRI and Tarnok takes a couple weeks off before ramping back up to compete for a major league job.

The A's have a lack of starting pitching depth so if Tarnok can return healthy and effective, it would be a big help for the organization.