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Notes: Painful day for Piazza, Merloni

Notes: Painful day for Piazza, Merloni

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PHOENIX -- Ouch. Double ouch.

Mike Piazza left the game after being hit by a Brian Bannister pitch on his left elbow in the third inning in the Athletics' 3-2 loss in 10 innings to the Royals on Tuesday.

In the 10th inning, a Matt Wright pitch struck Lou Merloni on the head. A shaken-up Merloni was scheduled to see a doctor Tuesday night.

"It doesn't feel too good right now," Piazza said. "It is sore. He got it pretty good. It was pretty flush."

Piazza took a few steps toward first base after being hit, then stopped as the trainer rushed out to check him out. Javier Herrera ran for Piazza.

"I can't even feel it," Piazza said. "There was a little delayed action. At first, I didn't think it got me that flush. It hurts. I iced it once and I'll probably ice it one more time and hopefully it will feel better.

"I'm hoping it feels better [Wednesday], but it may feel worse. I can't even move it right now. It is frustrating. It is a setback. Hopefully in less than a week, it is feeling better and I'll be back in there. You're on a certain pace and you'd like to stay on that pace. Injuries like this are a big inconvenience as far as staying on pace."

Piazza was not sent for an X-ray, but could be Wednesday, depending on how he feels. A's manager Bob Geren said Piazza was not scheduled to play Wednesday at the Cubs, where there is no DH.

"We'll find out more in the morning for sure," Geren said.

"I don't know if he was trying to come in off the plate," Piazza said of Bannister's pitch. "I'd like to believe it got away. I don't think I have a history with him."

Well, actually he does. Bannister, who was drafted by the Mets, said he met Piazza in 2003.

"He's one of my favorite players," Bannister said.

Merloni went down in the batter's box after Wright's pitch struck him in the head.

"It did get all helmet, not the face or anything," Geren said. "We're monitoring it."

The A's have been hit by seven pitches in their first five games.

"It just happens," Geren said. "Nobody likes to get hit, but everybody knows it is unintentional."

Blanton performance: Joe Blanton figures his slider will be there in April, but he is not so sure about his curve.

Blanton said he threw only one slider, but concentrated on his curveball in two innings against the Royals in his spring debut.

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"My slider is usually an easier pitch to get a feel for," he said. He said he had more difficult time discovering his curve.

"I want to get that early, just in case I can't find it," Blanton said. "I'm already working on it and hopefully it will be there. I thought I had a pretty good break. I didn't leave any up in the zone. I bounced a lot. It is just a matter of my arm slot was in a different slot."

Blanton gave up one run on three hits, walked two and struck out four.

"I don't like walking guys," Blanton said. "It is frustrating. In the first inning, I went deep into a lot of counts."

Schaefer homecoming: A's bench coach Bob Schaefer was on the Royals' coaching staff from 2002-05. While he talked with Royals manager Buddy Bell, bench coach Bill Doran, third-base coach Brian Poldberg, Hall of Famer George Brett, shortstop Angel Berroa and others before the game, he acknowledged he knew few of the Kansas City players.

"In two years, there are a lot of new guys," Schaefer said. "I enjoyed my days in Kansas City, and the guys played hard."

Schaefer was with the Red Sox organization from 1993-98, the final five years as director of player development, where Geren was a catching instructor.

"I actually kind of made him a manager," Schaefer said. "We've been pretty close ever since. When he got the job, he said he wanted me to help him. It was nice that he remembered me, but he knew I had a lot of experience and we thought alike in a lot of things. [A's general manager] Billy Beane played for me in the Minor Leagues, so he OKed it."

Dribblers: Travis Buck was scratched from a right-field start because of a stiff neck. He was replaced by Nick Swisher. ... Mark Kotsay, who has yet to play because of a bad back, had more tests Tuesday. The A's should have the results by Wednesday.

Upcoming: Left-hander Joe Kennedy and Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano are the pitching probables Wednesday at Mesa.

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

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