Parker's teammates stunned but supportive

Hard-luck hurler facing another long elbow rehab

March 12th, 2016

MESA, Ariz. -- Sonny Gray didn't want to talk about it at all.

And the members of the Oakland A's who did comment Saturday on the brutal reality that hit camp a day earlier spoke quietly and thoughtfully, still wanting to respect the moment. Their teammate and friend, starter Jarrod Parker, was likely out for the season again after another valiant attempt to come back from elbow problems that have plagued him for the last two-plus years.

A's Spring Training info

Parker ended up exactly where he was last May, with an identical bone fracture in the joint, and with questions about his playing career surely swirling through his head.

"The guys that have been close to him are very impacted by it," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "And shoot, I've been with Jarrod since he was drafted in Arizona, so I've known Jarrod a long time and gotten real close to him, so it was a tough day to get through yesterday, and I know [reliever Sean Doolittle] and [starter] Sonny and [catcher Stephen Vogt] and those guys were feeling it yesterday significantly."

Melvin said the team was feeling it in the dugout even during Friday's game against the Reds, and they were still feeling it Saturday morning in the clubhouse in Hohokam Stadium. Parker was off with his family for the weekend dealing with his emotions and was expected to come back to camp Monday. The rest of his team kept the daily grind going as they prepare for a season.

"It was a heavy day yesterday," Doolittle said. "I still feel like there's a little bit of a cloud hanging over camp. I guess no one's ever going to be able to relate to where he's at and what he's going through mentally. I guess I have a glimpse into where he's at with the injuries I've dealt with, maybe [reliever Ryan] Madson can relate to him a little bit with what he dealt with, but to watch a guy work that hard for so long, it's really tough.

"It seems really cruel that somebody can do everything right and put in all the work and it just gets taken away from you because your body doesn't want to cooperate," Doolittle said. "I'm still trying to process it a little bit."

He wasn't alone, especially given Parker's backstory. The right-hander had already gone through two Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgeries before the first fracture. Now he has a second fracture.

"To know everything that he's gone through in the past, and he continues to fight back and work hard to get back and get strong, to have another setback, it's devastating, when you really think about it," infielder Eric Sogard said.

"And I know he's got to be hurting. We've developed a good relationship, and he's always a guy that gives his best out there and goes hard and works hard. To know him on that level makes it a little tougher."

Madson, who came over to the A's from the Royals over the winter, was out of baseball after a long list of injuries. He considered retiring before rediscovering arm strength and a desire to win. He said the only advice he could offer Parker comes from the mental side of things.

"He knows," Madson said. "He's been through it. There's nothing you can really tell him. It's going to be up to him and wherever his heart is. My heart wasn't in the game when I left because of the injuries. It took my heart out of the game. I felt it wasn't worth it and I had to figure out something else to do.

"But if your heart's still in it and you still have passion about it, then you'll go about it the right way. It does help when you have guys supporting you in the clubhouse and out of the clubhouse, with whatever you decide. He can overcome it on the mental side. If he's done it this many times before, he can do it again. But his heart's got to be in it. That's the biggest thing."

New A's starter Rich Hill, who has been through elbow and shoulder surgeries, said that the A's are committed to standing by Parker's side and helping him in any way possible through this rough time.

"From my perspective, it's just a really tough thing to deal with, but I know everybody here in the locker room is behind him and supporting him with whatever he needs from us," Hill said. "And I also think down the line, he can help other players.

"As difficult as it is, you look for the positives."