Anyone remember someone called Justin Duchscherer? He was the top pitcher in the A's rotation, he was the only Athletic in last year's All-Star game, and spent part of the 2008 season leading the bigs with the lowest ERA. His elbow got gimpy in Spring Training, he needed surgery, and we've seen or heard little of him since.
But the "Duke of Hurl" is evidently back. Or at least, he's able to throw a baseball again. And Susan Slusser is reporting on her SF Chronicle A's Drumbeat blog that Duschscherer is currently expected back in another month.
The intrepid bloggers over at Athletics Nation have been on the monitoring tip, and went digging when they'd heard no news of the Duchscherer-ster for a number of weeks. They e-mailed the A's front office, and got confirmation that Duke would be starting his rehab effective last Thursday.
The meddling journalism continued when Slusser phoned Duchscherer, and got confirmation straight from the Duke himself that he was scheduled to begin throwing, effective today. Ms. Slusser checked back today, and Duchscherer did in fact begin throwing. He claims it's feeling 100%, but the pesky doctors won't let him jump right back into major league pitching just yet. And indications are he'll be able to return to the A's rotation -- perhaps at first as a reliever -- in early June.
These Athletics could sure use the guy as soon as possible. Dallas Braden remains your only A's starter with more than one victory to his credit this season (he has two, as does reliever Andrew Bailey). Josh Outman has been throwing four-innings-at-best stuff, and Trevor Cahill is intentionally laying low since the Rays rollicked him for seven runs in two and a third.
The A's already have too many guys on the disabled list after last night's loss to the Rangers. We expected a rebuilding year, but we didn't think doctors would have to actually rebuild so many players.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who might need a bone chip surgically removed from his elbow just from typing Duchscherer's name.