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MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

A's one of many clubs with pitching woes

Oakland's rotation depth has been challenged due to Parker, Griffin injuries

A's one of many clubs with pitching woes

PHOENIX -- The Oakland A's thought they had depth in their starting rotation.

And always needing to watch their budget, the A's saw the chance to move Brett Anderson to Colorado during the offseason for Drew Pomeranz as a win-win situation.

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While Anderson had been Oakland's Opening Day starter a year ago, he only started 11 games the last two years because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery during 2012 and suffered a stress fracture in his right foot in '13. And he had a deal for $8 million in 2014, with a $1.5 million buyout on an option for '15.

Adding Pomeranz would only add to the long-range depth.

So here it is, two weeks away from the A's season-opening series against the Indians, and their rotation depth has been challenged.

A.J. Griffin had right elbow soreness and has been shut down for three weeks with a muscle strain in his elbow, although no structural damage was found, and projected Opening Day starter Jarrod Parker will be examined on Monday by Dr. James Andrews for a strained right forearm.

Parker, along with Braves pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, are heading to Birmingham, Ala., to be checked out by Andrews on Monday. Instead of going with the D-backs to Australia for their games against the Dodgers, Patrick Corbin will be seeing Andrews this week.

So much for plans.

The late Jim Fregosi, a longtime manager and scout, would frequently explain that the one thing you knew about starting pitching was that no matter how strong a team feels its rotation is, it is never strong enough.

Think about it. Instead of making starts on Opening Day, Parker, the Rockies' Jhoulys Chacin (right shoulder strain), the D-backs' Corbin (partial tear of ligament in left elbow), the Mets' Jon Niese (left elbow discomfort) and Medlen (possible second Tommy John surgery) are expected to be rehabbing.

San Diego left-hander Cory Luebke already had Tommy John surgery in February.

Both Medlen and Beachy are facing the possibility of a second Tommy John surgery. They are among several pitchers on the Atlanta roster to have had the operation in the last decade, including Jonny Venters, who underwent the surgery last May and is in camp rehabbing this spring, along with offseason signee Gavin Floyd, who had the surgery last May as well while he was with the White Sox.

And the Braves also are looking at opening the season without lefty Mike Minor, who has a shoulder injury and is scheduled to throw his first batting-practice session on Monday. That's why the Braves moved quickly to sign Ervin Santana to a one-year, $14.1 million deal last week, and he's at camp trying to make up lost time in getting ready for the season. Right now, Santana slots in behind Julio Teheran, the only sure thing for the start of the season from the roster that opened Spring Training.

The A's, at least, are confident that Griffin's absence won't be for too long, and they are able to move projected sixth starter Tommy Milone, a left-hander, into the rotation along with Jesse Chavez, who had previously pitched in the Texas, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Kansas City and Toronto organizations. In his second spring with Oakland, Chavez has allowed only eight hits and two walks while striking out 12 in 12 2/3 scoreless innings, getting the A's attention.

Along with Corbin being sidelined, the D-backs are uncertain about Bronson Arroyo, who has made 30 starts and worked at least 199 innings each of the last nine seasons but has worked only three innings this spring because of a bulging disc in his back. He played catch at a distance of 105 feet on Friday.

Corbin isn't the only starting pitcher being left behind from Australia. Right-hander Zack Greinke, who was supposed to start Game 2 for the Dodgers, was left in Arizona to rehab a strained right calf, which isn't expect to land him on the disabled list.

Seattle knows Felix Hernandez will be its Opening Day starter for the seventh consecutive season. The spring, however, has left the Mariners uncertain about the next four games. They did get good news when Taijuan Walker followed up a 25-pitch bullpen session on Thursday with a 40-pitch effort on Sunday and said the inflammation in his right shoulder has alleviated.

There is not enough time for Walker to be ready for the start of the season, but there is now hope he won't be sidelined for long.

Hisashi Iwakuma, meanwhile, will be examined on Tuesday for the strained tendon in his right middle finger that has sidelined him this spring, and Brandon Maurer has been limited to two appearances because of back problems.

Niese, meanwhile, came out after only two innings on Sunday in what was just his second start of the spring. And while he said he felt he had irritated a hyperextension in his left elbow, the Mets will have Niese undergo an MRI on Monday. Niese's Spring Training had already been slowed by left shoulder soreness.

But then again, what's new?

An offseason of planning can be thrown out of whack in a day or two during the spring.

Ask the A's or the Braves.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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