The injury problems just aren’t getting better for the Oakland Athletics in Spring Training — not yet, anyway.
The team has already seen injury scares to Scott Sizemore and team ace Brett Anderson, while Jemile Weeks has been recovering from a sore shoulder. Closer Grant Balfour is just getting ready to make his debut coming off meniscus surgery, and Michael Taylor has knocked himself out throwing away a piece of gum.
Now, add Fernando Rodriguez to the list — except his injury isn’t so much a scare as it is a major blow for the reliever.
According to John Hickey of the San Jose Mercury News, the Athletics reliever will need Tommy John surgery in his right elbow to repair a torn UCL, and will miss the entire 2013 season as a result.
Rodriguez had come out of his last spring appearance on Monday without recording an out and throwing just seven pitches. Something was clearly wrong, and a subsequent MRI test confirmed the source of the elbow soreness.
The 28-year old, who came over from the Houston Astros as part of the Jed Lowrie deal, had made three appearances prior to Monday, and gave up three runs on four hits (two of them homers, a problem that he’s had throughout his young career) over 2.2 innings, along with three strikeouts.
He had been in the Athletics camp competing for a bullpen job that he was unlikely to win, given the depth the A’s have in that department. That said, Rodriguez would have provided valuable minor league depth for the team, and there’s simply never too many guys with 95 mph fastballs that a team can have in their system.
His 4.89/1.51 ERA/WHIP isn’t exactly impressive, but a 9.92 career K/9 over 123.1 big league innings would have played in some role further down the line, when the course of a full summer of baseball inevitably makes victims of bullpen arms.
That said, at 28-years old, it’s not as though Rodriguez can easily afford missing a full year. With a standard 12-14 month recovery, he’ll be near 30 by the time he’s ready to return on the mound, and will have his work cut out for him to prove himself in the bigs — if it ever happens.