OAKLAND — Sean Manaea, A.J. Puk, and Jharel Cotton, three A’s pitchers expected to anchor the rotation for years to come, are all currently out of action. But that may not be the case much longer.
The trio of young A’s pitchers are progressing well from their respective surgeries, with Cotton the furthest along as he’s scheduled to throw off a mound Feb. 4.
Getting back on the rubber will be nearly a year in the making for Cotton, who underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL last March.
“I’m ready to go off the mound and work on mechanics, body movement, stuff like that so I can repeat my delivery and come back ready to go,” Cotton said. “I’m eager.”
The rehab from Tommy John is often described as grueling. Players often go crazy with as the lengthy process — usually listed as a 12-15 month recovery time — drags on. While Cotton understands why some pitchers feel that way, he found enough ways to keep himself busy back home in Detroit during the offseason, whether it was watching sports or going out dancing on the weekends.
Now that spring training is around the corner, Cotton’s mind is clear, and he’s ready to get back to Arizona for a reuniting with his teammates.
“I kept my mind busy. Now that it’s baseball time, my arm is ready to go and my body feels great,” Cotton said. “I’m ready to get back and see all my teammates. I miss these guys.”
Cotton is expected to be back in competitive action shortly after spring training.
Puk has a similar timetable to Cotton, though he’s about a month behind in the process having undergone his Tommy John procedure in April.
“A.J. won’t throw off a mound likely until we leave for Japan,” A’s GM David Forst said. “But he is playing catch and has been out to 120 feet and feels great.”
Manaea is obviously the furthest away, having undergone his shoulder surgery in September. There’s no telling when he might return, but Forst is confident the left-hander will make it back at some point during the upcoming season, which is an upgrade from when the injury first occurred last year and the A’s feared he could potentially miss the entire 2019 season.
“Everyone’s happy with his range of motion, his strength, all those things,” Forst said. “He’s not throwing yet, once he starts playing catch that will give us an idea of how quickly he can be progressed. I think there’s every reason to believe Sean will pitch at some point this season.”
The light at the end of the tunnel brings Manaea extra comfort and more hope than he’s ever had in recent months as he’s gone through the rehab process.
“The biggest thing is there’s no pain or anything like that,” Manaea said. “Working out feels awesome and everything is right on track to where I feel normal again. It’s incredible how much better I feel now compared to where I was last year.”