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.
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.