PHOENIX -- When his alarm clock goes off on Tuesday morning, Jarrod Parker knows he will not be well rested following a late-night flight back to Tucson, Ariz., from Birmingham, Ala. The D-backs' top pitching prospect, though, has little doubt that he'll get out of bed quickly. That's because for the first time in months, the right-hander will actually get to throw a baseball.
Parker, who had Tommy John surgery in late October, received clearance from renowned surgeon James Andrews to begin a throwing program on Monday. "They did all the tests and everything, and it went really well," Parker said while he waited for his flight in the Birmingham airport. "The full range of motion is back and almost better than it was before surgery. They tested it for strength, and they were happy with that." Parker was the D-backs' No. 1 pick (ninth overall) in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft and began the 2009 season by dominating the Class A advanced California League with a 0.95 ERA in four starts. That earned him a promotion to Mobile, where he posted a 3.68 ERA in 16 starts and he pitched well in the All-Star Futures Game in St. Louis before being shut down for the year in August with elbow pain. After a rest and strengthening program failed to solve the problem, he underwent surgery and has since been rehabbing at the club's Minor League complex in Tucson. Last week, he threw a tennis ball lightly before going for his regularly scheduled visit with Andrews. "I'll start throwing a baseball [on Tuesday]," Parker said. "It will be two or three months of building up." The initial plan was to maybe have Parker pitching again by the time instructional league rolls around in the fall, but Parker said Andrews told him there was a chance he could be back sooner than that. "[Andrews] was like, 'It'd be great if you could throw by the All-Star break,'" Parker said. "That would be awesome, but I'm just going to take things day-to-day. His throwing program may be a little more aggressive than ours, but whatever, I'm just going to take it day-by-day and throw and go from there. "I know I'm going to be tired in the morning, but knowing that I'm going to the field to throw, that will get me going in the morning."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.