Parker focusing on command as activity ramps up

A's right-hander approaching second Tommy John rehab differently

MESA, Ariz. -- Jarrod Parker isn't just going through the motions his second time through Tommy John rehab. The A's right-hander is putting into practice lessons he learned the first go-around -- and from former teammate and master commander Bartolo Colon.

"I'm worrying about my delivery and hitting my spots," said Parker, who underwent the surgery a first time in October 2009 and again last March. "I think the first time through, I was a little lax on the command and it was the last thing to come back, so I want to make sure this time I have it right away and there's no hiccup and I can just go in with a solid heater.

"After watching Bartolo do that for years, I think it's a solid way to base your game plan off of."

Parker threw a 43-pitch bullpen Tuesday alongside fellow Tommy John patients A.J. Griffin and Raul Alcantara, throwing three of his four pitches: fastballs, curveballs and changeups. The slider can wait, he said, and isn't even necessary.

"If I didn't have it this year, I don't think it would bother me," said Parker, on track for a June return. "I think I can take what I have into a game and compete."

Parker has utilized his curveball a small percentage in his career, but it's a pitch he heavily relied on coming up with the D-backs, and it puts less stress on his elbow than the slider.

A's skipper Bob Melvin was managing in Arizona when the organization selected Parker with the ninth overall pick in the 2007 Draft and, even then, remembers him predominantly as a "fastball-curveball guy."

"Certainly the changeup is his best offspeed pitch, and one of the better ones in the game," said Melvin. "But to bring in another pitch that changes planes, another slower pitch, certainly could help him. If that's what he's comfortable doing, I'm all for it."

"It feels good right now," said Parker, who is close to throwing live batting practice for the first time post-surgery. "The last two weeks, I've been kind of walking into them on flat ground, and then the last two bullpens I've been able to work them into my stretch a little bit. I just really want the spin at this point, letting it work and not trying to make it something that I don't need it to be. I just want to get the basics of it back."

Jane Lee is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.