PHOENIX -- The good news is that third baseman Eric Chavez hit off live pitching in the batting cage and took part in some tossing of the baseball for the second consecutive day. The bad news is that he's yet to begin fielding again, which Chavez suspects was the root of the back spasms that sidelined him for six days and led to the injection of an epidural. "I just won't field any ground balls," Chavez said before taking some swings hours before the A's played the Cubs in a split-squad Cactus League game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Saturday. "I don't know when I'll be doing that. It's impossible to say. It's days away."
Chavez came out of the batting cage and proclaimed himself comfortable. "It's funny, I don't feel anything," he said, lightly swinging a bat. The relaxed pace of his workouts are dictated by the team trainers and still make him doubtful for the team's two-game season-opening series on March 25-26 against the Red Sox in Japan. The A's are slated to break camp in 11 days on March 19 to fly 13 hours from Phoenix to Tokyo. A's manager Bob Geren, though, said on Saturday that head trainer Stephen Sayles would continue to dictate the terms of Chavez's workouts. Sayles had said earlier in the week that the medical staff would now "stagger rather than stack" Chavez's baseball activities. That meant he wouldn't hit, throw or take grounders on the same day until further notice. But very quickly Chavez began hitting and throwing on the same day. "His schedule is determined by the trainer on a daily basis," Geren said. "I'll just keep you updated as we go." Chavez had to have an epidural administered on Feb. 29 to alleviate stiffness in the area of the back where he underwent microsurgery to repair damaged discs this past November. He's also recovering from labrum surgery in both shoulders. Chavez played only 90 games last season because of the assorted injuries, batting .240 with 15 homers and 46 runs batted in. He hasn't played a full season since 2005, when he appeared in 160 games. Earlier in the week, Sayles said that the object was to keep Chavez comfortable after he works out. "We want him to end each day in as little pain as possible," Sayles said. "Hopefully, he'll be pain free. We're just going to take it day-to-day right now." Chavez smiled when asked if he had reached that "pain free" goal. "Pain free? There's no such thing anymore," he said. "Manageable, that's all I can hope for. It's been manageable."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.