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Rounding Third: Oakland left scrambling after Parker injury

By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - You had to figure Major League Baseball would pay tribute to the great Dr. Frank Jobe at some point this season for his contribution to the game.

Maybe it's just me, but they seem to be overdoing it with all these pitchers needing Tommy John surgery, the procedure first performed by Jobe, who unfortunately passed away earlier this month.

The latest to be felled by the dreaded ulnar collateral ligament tear is Oakland righty Jarrod Parker, who will need a second such operation and miss the entire 2014 season.

Parker joins a list that seems to grow by the day, as Atlanta Braves righty Kris Medlen, Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano and Kansas City Royals righty Luke Hochevar have all gone under the knife this spring.

Not to mention, Atlanta righty Brandon Beachy and Arizona Diamondbacks left- hander Patrick Corbin are probably headed down that road as well.

Parker's injury is a killer, though, as he had been anointed the ace for an Athletics team that was trying for a third straight American League West title.

After winning 13 games and finishing fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2012, Parker went a team-record 19 straight starts without a loss last season and ended the year 12-8 with a 3.97 ERA, while throwing 197 innings.

Now at age 25, his career is very much up in the air, as he prepares to come back from a second Tommy John surgery. To Parker's credit, he called the injury a "speed bump," and seems very determined to get himself back.

The odds might be against him, but youth is certainly still on his side.

"You start to read all these numbers about percentages and everything, and I think, for Jarrod, it's different," manager Bob Melvin said. "He keeps himself in great shape, he works hard, he knows how to rehab. I think he's going to come back and have a nice, long career. That's just my feeling. Anything I had to say to him today, it was along those lines.

"If anybody knows how to do these things and rehab and keep a positive outlook, which is very important, it would be him."

There had been a certain air of excitement surrounding the young A's staff this season. Not only was the hope that Parker would progress, but righty A.J. Griffin was coming off a breakthrough campaign, as were young righties Sonny Gray and Dan Straily.

And by the way, Griffin is nursing an arm injury of his own at the moment.

Lefty Scott Kazmir was brought in this offseason to help round out a rotation. Without Parker's 200 innings, he's now become a very important veteran presence on the staff.

Gray looked like he had the goods last season, but still, he only threw 64 innings. If he's as good as everyone on the A's thinks, you'd have to think they'd try to limit his innings a bit.

I mean that kid glove approach seems to be working so well for pitchers around the league, right?

One pitcher who could really make Melvin's life a whole lot easier this year is lefty Tommy Milone, whose rotation spot wasn't guaranteed until Parker went down.

The 27-year-old won 13 games as a rookie in 2012, but struggled in his second year in Oakland, going 12-9 with a 4.14 ERA. He was actually demoted to the bullpen for a bit as well.

But this is a guy who threw 190 innings two years ago. If he can revert back to that form, he might make Parker's absence a wash.

Even with a healthy Parker, the A's starting pitching depth was a question mark. It's become a clear concern now.

Too bad Ervin Santana didn't wait another week to sign with a team. With all these pitchers going down, he may actually have gotten the deal he wanted.

03/19 13:59:13 ET