Notes: Plunked A's doing a bit better

Notes: Plunked A's doing a bit better

MESA, Ariz. -- Mike Piazza had trouble getting to sleep. Lou Merloni slept fine, except for his new puppy that woke him up every three hours.

Piazza and Merloni were each hit by a pitch in Tuesday's 3-2 extra-inning loss to the Kansas City Royals and a day later were still feeling the effects.

Brian Bannister hit Piazza on his left elbow in the third inning, while Matt Wright hit Merloni in the helmet during the 10th inning.

"It was an eye-opening experience," said Merloni on his first beanball. "I don't really remember much about yesterday. I knew what happened and I was conscious. Even after, it was scary just knowing how lucky I was."

Merloni sustained a concussion of undetermined degree. The left side of his face was swollen, both above the eye and just above his jaw. When he woke up Wednesday, his cheek looked like it had a small rubber ball in it.

There's no timetable for Merloni, though he thinks he won't be out too much longer. As a non-roster player, he wants back into the lineup sooner rather than later.

"We're just going to take it a step at a time," Merloni said. "We'll make sure all the symptoms have subsided and my head is clear. If I tried running right now, it wouldn't go too well, but I don't except it to be too long."

A CAT scan confirmed that everything was normal.

"Any time you get hit around the head, it's always scary," A's manager Bob Geren said. "Our trainer was right on it. The good thing [is] he was conscious and talking."

Piazza, his left elbow wrapped in ice, was limited to off-field conditioning activities.

"It's just stiff," Piazza said. "It's feeling a little better and will hopefully improve. It's spring, so it's better to err on the side of caution."

The swelling around his elbow had gone down a little since Tuesday night, though it was sore enough to affect his sleeping habits.

"It was uncomfortable, but I've done it before," Piazza said. "It's just a little bit of trouble."

Geren said Piazza, who sustained a bruised left triceps, will pace himself.

"It's activity as tolerated," he said. "Any time a guy gets hit and it's day-to-day, that's good news."

Kennedy's outing: Left-hander Joe Kennedy, the front-runner for the final spot in the starting rotation, gave up five runs in two innings on eight hits in the A's 9-8 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday in Mesa. He allowed four runs in 1 2/3 innings in his first start.

"As a starter, you can give up the runs in the first and still have a chance to finish with a solid inning," said Kennedy, who retired the first two Cubs in the second only to give up three straight singles. "I thought I was going to get it, but I feel like I'm getting closer. It's just a matter of time. It's fixable."

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Kennedy's ERA of 22.07 is in sharp contrast to last spring, when he didn't allow a run in his first five outings as a relief pitcher. But with over three weeks remaining before the regular season, no one is concerned about Kennedy's first two efforts.

"He's healthy and he's throwing the ball," Geren said. "It all comes together after you get out there a couple of times."

Kennedy feels he's on the right track.

"You want to get outs and my pitches are there," he said. "My location is not where it needs to be. I threw 50 pitches and only 10 of them were good. Over the next three or four days, I'll push hard on my delivery and finish. I need to step back and refocus a little bit."

Kennedy did contribute to the A's offense, driving in a run when he walked, on five pitches, with the bases loaded.

"I wasn't going to swing and I even told [Carlos Zambrano] I wasn't going to swing," Kennedy said. "Sometimes that makes it even harder for the pitcher."

Kennedy, a lifetime .170 hitter with six RBIs and three walks, hasn't taken any batting practice since he was with the Colorado Rockies in the first half of the 2005 season.

Injury news: Right-hander Justin Duchscherer has shown continued improvement with tendinitis in his right elbow. Outfielder Bobby Kielty continues to rehab after surgery on his left knee Friday. Infielder Mark Ellis was given an extra day to rest a sore foot, and shortstop Bobby Crosby continues to take batting practice as he recovers from back problems.

Extra bases: Third baseman Eric Chavez and outfielder Milton Bradley were among the regulars who stayed behind in Phoenix on Wednesday. ... Duchscherer and right-hander Rich Harden are hosting a "Battle of the Bay" Video Challenge on Sunday at the Gordon Biersch Restaurant in Tempe at approximately 5 p.m. MST to benefit the Arizona Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. ... Catcher Jason Kendall doubled to lead off Wednesday's game and later singled. Second baseman Antonio Perez also doubled and singled, and third baseman Donnie Murphy collected two hits. Perez was also hit by a pitch; A's batters have been hit eight times in six games.

Up next: Right-hander Dan Haren will make his second spring start Thursday in Phoenix against the Texas Rangers and starter right-hander Vicente Padilla. It will be hard for Haren to look any sharper than he did in his first outing against the Chicago Cubs last Saturday in which he threw 21 pitches, allowing a solo home run and double in his two innings. It will also mark Rangers manager Ron Washington's first appearance against his former team.

Rick Eymer is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.