Notes: Chavez taking it slow

Notes: Chavez taking it slow

PHOENIX -- Eric Chavez will begin running before he starts fielding ground balls and neither of those activities are on the docket yet, A's head athletic trainer Stephen Sayles said on Sunday as the third baseman continued the process of hitting and throwing on a daily basis.

"Those are things that don't bother him," Sayles said before the A's lost 5-2 to the Brewers in a Cactus League game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. "We don't want to stack fielding on top of hitting. Throwing is pretty benign. He could do that even when he was at his worst."

As far as fielding goes, Sayles reiterated what Chavez said on Saturday and said there was no timetable at this point for that to begin because of the bending it entails.

"We still have a few things to work on before he starts doing that again," Sayles said. "We're still doing agility exercises with him and we have to increase that before he starts fielding again. And we'd like to get him running a little bit before he starts fielding. Right now, he's not doing any heavy, hard running."

Sayles dictated the slow pace of the workouts and because of that Chavez remains very much 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 10 days on March 19 to fly 13 hours from Phoenix to Tokyo.

It's more likely that Chavez will remain here and continue to work out at the Papago Park Minor League complex. The medical staff will have to clear Chavez if and when he's to be eligible to play.

"I may make the call on whether he's ready to play, but I'm not going to make the call on whether or not he's taking the [Japan] trip," Sayles said. "It's possible -- and I'm just saying this just to say it -- it's possible he'd go on the trip and not play. But I don't know how likely that is. If we didn't clear him to play, it's their decision whether to take him on the trip. But I think they'd feel the same way. It'd be more advantageous if he stayed here and got work."

Chavez had to have an epidural administered on Feb. 29 to alleviate stiffness in the L4-L5 area of the back, where he underwent laser microsurgery to repair damaged discs this past November.

Asked on Sunday about his back, Chavez said he felt "outstanding."

Cust OK: Jack Cust was hit in the head by Cubs starter Sean Marshall on Saturday and had to leave the game. He suffered a bruise and cut in the side of his head where the helmet cracked, had precautionary X-rays that were negative and wasn't in the lineup on Sunday.

This is the second time of the spring Cust has been knocked out of a game after being hit by a pitch. The last time, he was nailed in the elbow.

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"I've got to practice getting out of the way," he deadpanned.

Blanton on schedule: Right-hander Joe Blanton, who's slated to start the opener in Japan, worked through five innings on Sunday, allowing a run on three hits and three walks. He threw about 80 pitches. He'll have two more Cactus League starts before the club breaks camp.

"I'm pretty close to where I need to be," said Blanton, who also whiffed five Brewers. "Coming to the end of Spring Training, you just want to have your endurance built up. Spring Training has been short, but it's kind of like you're already ready to get the season going."

Cunningham injured: Rookie outfielder Aaron Cunningham broke his left wrist sliding into a base on Saturday during the A's split-squad game against the Mariners in Peoria. He'll be on the shelf for six weeks, A's manager Bob Geren said. Cunningham was one of the six players the A's obtained from Arizona in the trade that sent pitcher Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks. He hit .375 (3-for-8) this spring with a game-winning hit.

Barton plays: Rookie Daric Barton, who took batting practice on Sunday for the first time in eight days, pinch-hit in the bottom of the eighth inning. He struck out swinging and then went in to play first base. Barton missed seven consecutive games because of soreness on the outside of his left hand. He's 0-for-8 this spring.

A's cut six more: Pitchers Jeff Gray and Dan Meyer and infielder Kevin Melillo were optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. Non-roster invitee pitchers Troy Crate and James Simmons and infielder Casey Rogowski were sent to the Minor League camp. The A's now have 47 players in their Major League camp, 34 on the 40-man roster and 13 non-roster types. That includes 21 pitchers, 12 infielders, nine outfielders and five catchers.

Up next: The A's play the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Monday in the second meeting of the spring between the two teams. The Angels won, 6-1, in Tempe this past Monday. Left-hander Dallas Braden is slated to go against Angels ace right-hander John Lackey.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.