OAKLAND -- A's shortstop Bobby Crosby, out since being placed on the disabled list after leaving after three innings on Opening Day, was welcomed back with a standing ovation on Monday night and responded with an opposite-field double in his first at-bat.
Thus began what manager Ken Macha hopes is a steady march back to health for his club, which entered a three-game series with the visiting Devil Rays with the second-worst record in the American League.
"We're in a rut right now," said Macha. "Getting Bobby back is a nice step forward for us, and getting some of the other guys back should be a big pick-me-up, too."
"I just hope I can do something to spark the team," said Crosby, whose formerly fractured ribs held up just fine in a week-long rehab stint at Class A Stockton and Triple-A Sacramento. "Watching [the A's], it seems like in a lot of games, we've just needed that one spark, and hopefully, I can help with that."
To make room on the roster for Crosby, the A's optioned infielder Keith Ginter to Sacramento. Ginter, who was batting .169 with three home runs and 18 RBIs in 26 games, was philosophical about the demotion.
"They made the move they had to make," said Ginter after meeting with Macha and A's general manager Billy Beane. "What are you going to do? I've to go down there, have fun, get in rhythm, get some at-bats. Right now they need anybody who can get hits. The team's struggling, and they need to do whatever it takes.
"Obviously, when you look at it, it's a pretty easy situation. I mean, I'm hitting the lowest on the team. There's one guy hitting less than me [Charles Thomas, .098], but obviously, they need him in the outfield. I've got to go down there and make the best of the situation."
Ginter was poised while discussing the move, which he insisted didn't catch him by surprise.
"I didn't treat it out of the realm of possibility," he said. "I've learned in this game that you can't ever assume it's going to be you unless you're an Eric Chavez or a Jason Kendall type. I had a long talk with Billy, and I talked with Macha. It's the decision they made. I've got to live with it. There's nothing I can do about it.
"I pretty much did it to myself. If I was playing to my capabilities, it wouldn't be an issue."
Calero creeping back: One of the "other guys" to whom Macha referred when discussing his team's medical situation, right-handed setup man Kiko Calero, is closing in on a return to the big leagues as well.
Calero, on the disabled list since May 10 with tendinitis in his right elbow, threw 25 pitches in a simulated game early in the afternoon and reported no pain.
Kiko Calero / P
Weight: 185 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"I feel great," said Calero, adding that he threw all of his pitches, including the slider that the medical staff believes might have caused the injury. "I'm feeling really happy."
He tempered his enthusiasm somewhat by noting that a couple of significant hurdles need to be cleared.
One will come on Tuesday.
"I need to see how I feel tomorrow," he said. "Right now it's great. Hopefully, it's great tomorrow, too."
The other hurdle, if all goes well, could come this Saturday. The tentative plan, according to Calero, is for him to report to Sacramento on Wednesday and pitch one inning as the River Cats' starter that night. He'll take Thursday off, start again on Friday and possibly pitch in Sacramento again on Saturday.
"I have to throw on back-to-back days to know that it's good," he said.
Macha said it's possible that Calero, who did not allow a run in his first seven outings of the year before the tendinitis flared, could join the A's on Saturday.
"If Kiko's back by the weekend," said Macha, "that'll be more good news. Just like Bobby, he's a big part of the team we hoped to have coming out of Spring Training."
Calero's fastball was clocked at 87 mph on Monday, and pitching coach Curt Young said that's about where he expected Calero to be at this point in his recovery.
"He works at about 88-90, so he's right on track," offered Young.
Dribblers: Rookie Dan Johnson, called up during the A's 0-6 road trip when Erubiel Durazo was placed on the disabled list with tendinitis in his left elbow, likely will play every day until Durazo returns. "We're gonna see if this guy's ready for prime time," said Macha. "We didn't bring him up here to sit on the bench." ... Macha seemed less than pleased that closer Octavio Dotel, on the DL with his own elbow problem, recently announced that he's seeking a second opinion. Dotel was examined last week by noted specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum, who told the righty that he didn't need surgery. Dotel plans to travel to Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday to see another famed specialist, Dr. James Andrews. "The guy he saw [in the first place] is pretty good," said Macha tersely. ... The A's, who had made 26 errors over their past 24 games before the Tampa Bay series, were on the field early for extra defensive drills.
Mychael Urban is a
reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.