PHOENIX -- A's righty Esteban Loaiza, forced out of a March 9 game with shoulder tightness, was solid in his return to Cactus League action Monday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Though he gave up seven hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings, Loaiza allowed just two earned runs and struck out four in his longest outing of the spring. His previous outing came in a simulated game Wednesday; Loaiza was on the disabled list from April 29-June 8 last year, so the A's wanted to be sure he was healthy before sending him back out against big leaguers.
He looked plenty healthy against the Padres, but two Oakland errors, a fly ball lost in the sun and righty reliever Jay Witasick's first rough outing of the spring made Loaiza's line look a lot worse than it should have been. "I felt good," said Loaiza, who threw 86 pitches. "I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes and keep the ball low." Manager Bob Geren said before the game that Loaiza's fastball was clocked in the 85-87 mph range in his Minor League outing, and he rarely topped 88 on the gun Monday. Loaiza typically works at 89-92 when he's healthy. "I know I can throw harder," he said. "But I'm just working on hitting my spots right now. I don't want to go out there and try to throw as hard as I can and get hurt. I'll air it out a little more against Texas [on Saturday]. ... My shoulder isn't even an issue. It was gone when I pitched in the [simulated] game." Said Geren: "I thought he looked great. To go from coming out in his first inning to throwing close to 90 pitches, obviously he's feeling pretty good." Medical report: Shortstop Bobby Crosby (back), who went 1-for-3 with a homer and played four innings on defense in a Minor League intrasquad game Sunday, didn't play in a game Monday but is expected to make another Minor League appearance Tuesday. He'll play seven innings on defense, and if it goes well, he'll likely make his Cactus League debut Wednesday night against the Royals. ... The plan for righty setup man Justin Duchscherer (triceps tendinitis) has changed yet again. He threw 31 pitches in batting practice, and Geren said he'll not throw Tuesday and pitch in a Minor League game Wednesday. If that goes well, he'll take Thursday off and make his Cactus League debut Friday. ... Outfielder Bobby Kielty, rehabbing from knee surgery, took part in batting practice in the morning. ... Outfielder Hiram Bocachica, who missed the previous two days with a "non-baseball-related" condition (he was sick), was back in action Monday. Game notes: Center fielder Milton Bradley lined a double off the right-field wall against Padres ace Jake Peavy in the bottom of the first inning, then made a nice basket catch after a long run toward the infield to rob Russell Branyan in the top of the second.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.