Griffin shut down for three weeks with muscle strain
Righty could return to rotation in early May; Parker awaits doctor visit for forearm
PHOENIX -- A.J. Griffin has been shut down for three weeks because of a muscle strain in his pitching arm, and the A's are confident that rest and rehab should be enough to cure the ailing right-hander, after an MRI revealed no structural damage to his elbow.
"The MRI showed that it is not a surgical deal at this point," said manager Bob Melvin, "and we were relieved to hear that."
The A's will still be without Griffin, and possibly Jarrod Parker, who is battling forearm tightness, come Opening Day, and the A's aren't ready to project a return timetable for either of them. But given the information received on Griffin, it's plausible he'll be ready to return as early as May.
Parker, meanwhile, is scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews in Alabama on Monday to further understand the extent of his injury, though it remains likely he starts the season on the disabled list, no matter the outcome, to ensure proper rest.
Lefty Tommy Milone and right-hander Jesse Chavez are now expected to fill out a rotation that also includes Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Dan Straily.
"To be honest," said Griffin, "it's what we thought it was. Having that kind of peace of mind, knowing we don't need surgery, is good to know. It's relieving knowing I'll be able to get right.
"The doctor said that there doesn't look like there's anything too serious, just some tendinitis. My flexors are pretty sore, so we're going to look at it and take it easy and get it back to 100 percent. It's pretty much the same thing I was dealing with last year."
The issue, in fact, never went away. Griffin felt a slight discomfort when he began his throwing program this winter, and it only worsened with each start this spring as his innings increased.
The A's decided to send him for tests with Dr. Doug Freedberg following his Thursday start, when he gave up five runs on nine hits, including a pair of homers, in 3 2/3 innings. Freedberg and Griffin decided that platelet-rich plasma therapy might be part of his rehab.
"It's been really uncomfortable throwing," the pitcher said. "I just feel like I can't get extended on my fastball. That's partially why it doesn't have the velocity it usually has, and it's been more up in the zone, too, a little bit.
"We've been working on it, been doing a lot of treatment just to get everything working right. With the innings, and getting up and down, it just hasn't been very fun with the tendinitis. It was starting to affect the quality of my pitches, so we just want to nip it in the bud right now, rather than have it extrapolate into something bigger."
Still, there's frustration in beginning the season on the DL.
"We're looking forward to getting this problem solved, but it's really tough," Griffin said. "You come into the season and want to be a contributor from Day 1. I was on the DL for only a month in 2012 but it felt like a long time. You want to be out there all the time and, in a winning environment, it's tough to be on the sidelines."