Notes: Pitchers on the mend

Notes: Pitchers on the mend

OAKLAND -- It has been a frustrating season so far for a trio of Athletics pitchers who had hoped to have a positive impact at the Major League level this year. Chad Bradford and Dan Meyer are working their ways back from injuries, while Juan Cruz is trying to regain the pitching prowess that got him to the Majors in the first place.

Bradford has been recovering from surgery to fix a herniated disc in his lower back. The surgery took place March 7. A's trainer Larry Davis reported that the 30-year-old righty has pitched three times for one inning in the rookie-level Arizona League. Bradford will make one more appearance there and then be re-evaluated.

The seven-year veteran allowed just 21.4 percent of inherited runners to score last season. That was good enough for seventh-best in the American League. He also led the A's in appearances last year by pitching in 68 games.

When asked how much the A's miss Bradford in the bullpen, A's manager Ken Macha said, "Bradford is a very good Major League relief pitcher and if you put a very good Major League relief pitcher in your bullpen that helps out a lot."

Another A's pitcher on the way back from injury is Dan Meyer. The 23-year-old lefty threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief at Triple-A Sacramento in his second appearance since missing about a month with soreness in his pitching shoulder.

A year ago, Meyer was 6-3 with a 2.22 ERA in rookie ball before going 3-3 with a 2.79 ERA in Triple-A with the Braves organization. Meyer began the season at Sacramento and is currently 1-3 with a 7.17 ERA in 10 appearances with the River Cats.

Meyer was in competition for a spot in the A's starting rotation during Spring Training, but Oakland opted to put Kirk Saarloos in the rotation instead of Meyer.

The third player is Cruz, who was roughed up in the Majors this season before being sent to Triple-A to develop as a starter rather than a reliever. Cruz pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings for Sacramento and recorded 10 strikeouts in his second start.

Cruz was optioned to Sacramento June 17 after having his ERA balloon up to 8.49 in 21 appearances. The 6-foot-2 righty did strike out 27 batters in 23 1/3 innings, but opponents were batting .302 againt Cruz. Last year with the Braves, Cruz went 6-2 with a 2.75 ERA in 50 relief appearances.

The A's are optimistic that these pitchers will be poised to contribute in the second half of this season and they're happy about how their current pitching staff has been performing recently.

"Right now our five starters are doing very well. Actually, all of our pitchers have been doing very well," Macha said. "It's nice to have a stockpile and an option if you need to go to those guys."

   Erubiel Durazo  /   DH
Born: 01/23/75
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 240 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

More injury updates: Erubiel Durazo hit balls off a tee before one of the A's games against the Giants last weekend. The swings Durazo took were just with his right arm and were seen as progress in his rehabilitation process. The left-handed infielder is recovering from tendinitis in his left elbow that has sidelined him since May 25.

"I think it helped a lot and made him feel a little better to swing," Davis said before Tuesday's game. "The next step is for him to squeeze lightly with his left hand while swinging. There's improvement in his condition and he's coming along. He's able to see the improvement with things and it makes him feel good."

Chipping for charity: Many A's players chose to use Monday's off-day as a chance to give back to their community at the Oakland A's Community Fund Golf Classic. Mark Kotsay reported that Saarloos had the longest drive among A's players and Kotsay's group finished second.

"It was a long day, but a good time," said Kotsay, who won the Pepsi Chip Like A Pro contest.

The live auction raised about $35,000 for the A's Community Fund, which benefits numerous East Bay charities. There was also a silent auction at the banquet dinner.

More community philanthropy: Kotsay and A's third base coach Ron Washington will present a $100,000 check to the newest branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oakland on behalf of the A's organization Wednesday. On top of the donation, the A's will unveil a new basketball court in the Simpson Family Gymnasium that features the A's logo at center court.

On deck: Joe Blanton gets the call in Wednesday's game against the Mariners. The righty will try to notch his fifth win of the month. Blanton is already tied for the most wins this month and his 2.02 ERA is second to Mark Buehrle's 0.87 in June.

CJ Bowles is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.