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A.J. Puk Talks Road To Recovery Following Tommy John Surgery (Video)

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A.J. Puk (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

The path back to the mound from Tommy John is a winding one, but A's prospect A.J. Puk is approaching the end.

Puk, 23, threw a bullpen session last week, his first since undergoing elbow surgery last April. It's a welcome sign for the 6-foot-7 lefty, who arrived in A's camp last season with considerable expectations and appeared to be on a quick trajectory to the majors.

Instead, Oakland's No. 2 overall prospect (and the No. 18 prospect in baseball) missed the entire season.

Arizona State student Blaine McCormick spoke with Puk about the recovery process. Puk is rehabbing alongside fellow A's teammate Jharel Cotton, who also underwent Tommy John surgery last year.

A's manager Bob Melvin said it's clear Puk wants to be back on a mound.

“You sense he’s itching to do a little bit more," Melvin said. "It looks like he wants to throw a little bit harder. We’re trying to keep him at about 70 percent and all fastballs.”

Barring setback, it's not unrealistic to think Puk will make his MLB debut at some point in 2019. Puk has struck out 224 batters in 157 2/3 career minor league innings, holding opponents to a .219 batting average.

Blaine McCormick is a senior majoring in sports journalism at Arizona State University. This story is a part of a partnership between Baseball America and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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