Parker to have Tommy John surgery
D-backs' top pitching prospect injured elbow in July start
The Arizona Diamondbacks' top pitching prospect, Jarrod Parker, will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow next week.
The D-backs officially announced their 2007 first-round pick will have the surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews, on Wednesday, Oct. 28. On the one hand, there's some apprehension from the young right-hander. On the other, he's looking forward to getting his elbow permanently repaired.
"A little bit of both," the 20-year-old Parker said. "I'm nervous going into surgery. I've never had any major surgery. But I'm also relieved. You won't have to hold back [once you're healthy]. You'll feel better, you'll feel free."
Parker hasn't felt that way since he first injured his throwing elbow on July 30, a start that saw him give up five earned runs on eight hits over four innings in the Double-A Southern League. The D-backs shut him down for a few weeks in the hopes that rest would be all that was needed. As he dialed it back up, he knew something wasn't quite right.
"When I started throwing, I knew it wouldn't feel good at first," Parker explained. "I was going good for about three weeks, then I hit a plateau where it was feeling just OK. I don't know how else to explain it. I knew I couldn't just go on like that."
Parker will have a pre-op exam on Tuesday, with Wednesday being the likely date for the surgery. He'll miss the 2010 season, though Parker vows that whatever holds him back, it won't be a lack of effort.
"The rehab, I'm going to work my butt off to get back," he said. "A realistic goal would be [instructional league next year], but I'm also realizing you can't always come back that quickly. I figure by Spring Training 2011, that will be 14-to-15 months after the surgery, I'll be 100 percent."
"We wish him well," D-backs farm director Mike Berger said. "I'm not alarmed. It's almost common place today. You don't want to see anyone undergo surgery, but an elbow certainly beats a shoulder. With the track record of this surgery, I'm very optimistic. Most important, knowing the type of player having it helps. Nobody works like him. He will do everything within his power to get back to 100 percent."
Parker began the '09 season at 100 percent, posting a 0.95 ERA in four starts in the Class A Advanced California League before earning a promotion to Double-A Mobile. MLB.com's No. 9 prospect at midseason, the bump up didn't seem to faze the No. 9 pick from the '07 Draft. Over his first 13 starts heading into the All-Star break, Parker had a 2.98 ERA while striking out 61 in 63 1/3 innings. He participated in the All-Star Futures Game in St. Louis in July. When he was shut down he had a combined 3.14 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 97 1/3 total innings.
For Parker, someone who likes to be in control on the mound, it's a different perspective to put his health, not to mention his career, under the care of someone else. But the combination of Dr. Andrews' expertise with the D-backs' watchful eye following the surgery has Parker as at ease as can be expected.
"I couldn't ask to be in the hands of a better doctor," Parker said. "The organization is going to work with me rehabbing, and we're going to bust our butts to get back, get healthy and mature a little bit more."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.