OAKLAND - When Sean Manaea underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery in Septemeber, the expectation was that he would miss most, if not all, of the 2019 season.
Now, less than five months later, the A's are optimistic their talented left-hander could return sometime around the All-Star Break.
"I'm feeling great," Manaea told NBC Sports California. "This time compared to last year is 100 times better than how I felt. The surgery definitely fixed pretty much everything that was going on with my shoulder."
That's an incredible statement, considering Manaea went 12-9 with a 3.59 ERA and 1.08 WHIP last season. He even tossed a no-hitter against the future World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
Yet it appears Manaea, who turned 27 Friday, could come back even stronger following his rehab.
"Sean feels really good," said A's general manager David Forst. "Everyone's happy with his range of motion, his strength, all those things. He's not throwing yet. Once he starts playing catch, that will give us an idea of how quickly he can be progressed. But I think there's reason to believe Sean will pitch at some point this season."
Added Manaea: "Overall, I'm really happy with where I'm at right now, just in the rehab process. Hopefully I can start throwing soon, and hopefully my shoulder holds up and I don't really have any problems down the road. But I'm prepared for anything and just taking it one day at a time."
Manaea admits the process hasn't been easy, but he has tried to remain positive throughout his recovery. He has also tried to find other ways to improve his game
"It's been a long offseason but I'm glad I'm going through this and kind of stepping away for a little bit, gathering my thoughts, taking a mental break away from baseball, and really just figuring out the things I need to work on. That's what I'm taking this time off to do - working on mechanics, all these different things."
Manaea knows he could be a valuable addition to the A's rotation for the second half of the season. That thought keeps him motivated during his rehab.
"It's definitely a goal, and I think it's very attainable to come back at some point this season, whenever that may be. Every day, I'm starting to get that image in my head of pitching at the Coliseum. It makes the rehab a little bit easier. I'm just really excited to be (back)."