A.J. Puk still is sporting the short hairdo he did last season, saying goodbye to his long locks.
But more importantly, the top pitching prospect is healthy and ready to go with A's camp underway.
“I came into camp ready to go, feeling great. I had a really good offseason, got my body in a good position to come out and compete,” Puk said on Friday.
Puk underwent left shoulder surgery in September. This was following his Tommy John procedure in April of 2018. Since then, however, his goals have remained simple.
“First and foremost, just prove my health and I just want to come out here and be able to come in and play every day,” Puk said. “I think I’m in a good position to do that and I’m just real excited to get this year going.”
Puk said he was about halfway through his offseason throwing progression and rehab this offseason and feels healthy enough that he has forgotten he even underwent the surgery. He just showed up at the training facility and started throwing.
It wasn’t easy to tell, but Puk also said he lost about 10 pounds this offseason.
He worked with Cressey Sports Performance down in Florida, which is where veteran pitcher Corey Kluber held his showcase for many teams in the offseason. It's a very prestigious program where Puk concentrated on more than just his shoulder. He wanted to create more stability in his body, which ultimately will lead to more success on the field.
He is a few bullpens behind everyone else only because his throwing program started later than others', but he has one more bullpen before facing live hitters and then getting into a game.
As far as his role goes, the A’s want to concentrate on him as a starter -- but there are other possibilities.
“It all comes back to my health. I’d really love to start, that’s what I want to do, but at the same time, if I have to come out of the bullpen,” Puk said. “Whatever the team needs.”
In 11 ⅓ innings of relief work in 2019, Puk boasted a 3.18 ERA with 13 strikeouts and five walks.