Updates from Wednesday, April 30
Joe Stiglich of Comcast SportsNet provides more information on AJ Griffin's elbow:
A.J. Griffin underwent Tommy John surgery today on his elbow. Typical timeframe for recovery anywhere from 12 to 18 months. #Athletics— Joe Stiglich (@JoeStiglichCSN) April 30, 2014
Updates from Tuesday, April 29
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman provides some bad news for A.J. Griffin's elbow:
AJ Griffin will have tommy john surgery. It's like an epidemic among good young starters. #athletics— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) April 29, 2014
Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle reports on when the surgery will take place:
Griffin will have elbow surgery in Houston tomorrow.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) April 29, 2014
Oakland Athletics starting pitcher A.J. Griffin is reportedly likely to undergo Tommy John surgery next week to alleviate the discomfort in his injured right throwing elbow.
A source informed Joe Stiglich of Comcast SportsNet California, and he passed along the news of the ominous development for the A's on Friday:
Hearing from a reliable source that A.J. Griffin will probably have Tommy John surgery next week. #Athletics— Joe Stiglich (@JoeStiglichCSN) April 25, 2014
However, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Susan Slusser has different information:
#Athletics asst. GM David Forst refutes report that A.J. Griffin already slated for TJ surgery, saying no decision will be made until Tues.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) April 26, 2014
Griffin was shut down during spring training for three weeks because of his ailing elbow, diagnosed as right flexor tendinitis. The promising 26-year-old hurler has yet to take the mound this season, and it looks as though he won't at all in light of Friday's news.
John Hickey of Bay Area News Group felt the writing may have been on the wall in his analysis on Thursday:
A.J. Griffin was shut down by #Athletics mid-March, so it 'a been 5 weeks that he's rehabbed. Now surgery seems at least a possibility.— John Hickey (@JHickey3) April 24, 2014
Although Griffin was only likely to be the No. 4 pitcher in Oakland's rotation, this is nevertheless a big loss for the A's, who are already going to be dealing with the absence of Jarrod Parker. At age 25, Parker is slated to undergo the second Tommy John procedure of his career and is out for 2014.
The uncertain circumstances surrounding both Parker and Griffin had Oakland preparing for the worst even before the regular season began. Assistant general manager Mark Forst explained the club's strategy in light of the injury situations plaguing Griffin and Parker, per ESPN.com news services on March 17:
This is why we stretched out Jesse Chavez this spring. And this is why we didn't trade Milone in the offseason when people were saying we had too much starting pitching. The need for [pitching] depth is always there. In this case, the five starters didn't make it to Opening Day.
So at least this is something the Athletics have been bracing for, as they didn't expect much from Griffin once he was diagnosed with his injury. Jesse Chavez and Tommy Milone have been tasked with picking up the slack on the bump, and it's worked well enough to get Oakland to 14-8 entering Friday's action.
Chavez in particular has been strong, posting a 1.38 ERA in four games, as the A's lead the MLB in quality starts with 18 already.
Since this news regarding Griffin was just confirming the organization's worst suspicions, it shouldn't be all too big of a blow moving forward for the A's. Between Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray and Chavez, they still have at least three quality starters to get by even without their two strong youngsters in Griffin and Parker.
This is yet another prime example of savvy moves by Oakland's front office that has allowed it to build cost-effective depth over time and has positioned the team for contention in the past three seasons. There is plenty of reason to believe they can overcome this early adversity with Griffin out and win their third consecutive American League West division title.