MESA, Ariz. -- Bobby Wahl's stock has dropped since the A's last saw him on the field, but the right-hander is determined to prove he's a healthy and reliable relief option again.The hard-throwing Wahl made his big league debut last year, totaling just 7 2/3 innings before going down with
MESA, Ariz. -- Bobby Wahl's stock has dropped since the A's last saw him on the field, but the right-hander is determined to prove he's a healthy and reliable relief option again.
The hard-throwing Wahl made his big league debut last year, totaling just 7 2/3 innings before going down with a shoulder injury. The right-hander later learned he would benefit from surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, which occurs when the nerves and/or blood vessels between your collarbone and your first rib become compressed. The procedure produces varying degrees of success.
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The condition has been found in other big leaguers in recent seasons; Matt Harvey, Chris Carpenter and Josh Beckett are among those who have been diagnosed with it. Some pitchers find they're not as effective after it; others don't recover from it at all.
Wahl, back in camp as a non-roster invite, is enjoying a seamless recovery to this point but has yet to be game-tested.
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"The way the ball's coming out, it feels easy," Wahl said. "So far, this is the best I've felt throwing a baseball in a long time."
Wahl on Thursday described "a throbbing pain" in his shoulder when pitching last year. His everyday life was affected, too. The pain would sometimes surface when he was simply driving his car, prompting a visit with Dallas-based vascular surgeon Dr. Gregory Pearl, who recommended surgery.
"I knew it had to be done just from everyday pain I was having," Wahl said. "It was definitely a little frightening going into it, but the way I felt after kind of cleared all doubts for me.
"I came out of surgery and my wife said I was saying I was ready to go right now."
Wahl, 25, could touch 100 mph pre-surgery, leaving some to wonder whether he can do so again -- and effectively.
"This was a guy that was probably our next guy and potentially a closer-type guy," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "To get his first taste of the big leagues last year and then to have to deal with what he had to deal with … he's rehabbed hard. It's been a pretty quick recovery to this point to where he's full-go right now in camp.
"Certainly, the big arm has been there, and from what I understand he's throwing pretty hard now too."
Said Wahl: "I'm just itching to play so bad. It gives me that drive to come back, wanting to play with all these guys I came up with, because I know how much fun it is. If I can prove I'm healthy, everything will figure itself out."
Wahl was one of several relievers on display Thursday. Newly acquired lefty Ryan Buchter, picked up from the Royals earlier this month, drew comparisons from Melvin to former A's lefty Sean Doolittle. Melvin also liked the looks of right-hander Lou Trivino, who was added to the club's 40-man roster in the offseason.
Trivino turned in a combined 3.03 ERA between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville in 2017. The 26-year-old struck out 65 batters in 68 1/3 innings, flashing a fastball that reaches triple digits.
"That kind of velocity, that kind of movement, he was real impressive," Melvin said.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.