Righty, set to undergo second Tommy John, has received support from around league
PHOENIX -- Jarrod Parker can barely keep up with the text messages.
The A's pitcher has received more than a hundred of them -- from friends, family, teammates old and new all around the country -- since hearing from Dr. James Andrews on Monday morning that he needs a second Tommy John surgery.
"Some of them have made me laugh," said Parker, "some of them have made me a little teary-eyed.
"It's good, but it's tough at the same time."
This is the type of support that Parker will rely on to carry him through yet another grueling, yearlong rehab process, the type of journey that can often be so unkind to an athlete's mental state. That's where the greatest challenge lies.
But Parker, who was projected as the A's Opening Day starter before succumbing to injury, is simply calling this setback a "speed bump." The righty has done it before, "and I can do it again," he said.
"I think that's going to be the biggest battle, the mental part. Everything physically -- I'm young, I'm healthy, I work hard -- isn't a concern, but it's going to be a test."
He'll remain with the team this season through its quest for a third straight division championship -- "I love this game, I love this team," Parker said -- and do his rehab in the Bay Area, mindful of the odds against him but determined to overcome them.
One of his biggest supporters won't be too far.
"You start to read all these numbers about percentages and everything, and I think, for Jarrod, it's different," said manager Bob Melvin. "He keeps himself in great shape, he works hard, he knows how to rehab. I think he's going to come back and have a nice, long career. That's just my feeling. Anything I had to say to him today, it was along those lines.
"If anybody knows how to do these things and rehab and keep a positive outlook, which is very important, it would be him."
"He's going to be in my corner no matter what," said Parker. "He knows as well as I do that you can't put statistics on individual guys. You don't want to categorize things and be a statistic. I want to be the different one, and hopefully things work out, and I'm going to do whatever it takes to make it work. I'm going to seek out as much information as I can, as much support as I can."
Parker ran into Braves pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, a fellow Indiana native, at the airport on Monday, all three of them having seen Andrews during the day. Medlen, like Parker, will undergo a second Tommy John procedure. Beachy is likely staring at the same fate.
"There's always that thought, 'Why me? Why the guys that are working hard, and we think we're doing the right things?'" said Parker. "It's that thought in the back of your head, 'What am I doing wrong? What do I need to change?'
"But I think, to sit back and look and regret and think you did something wrong is not the right attitude."