Chavez making steady progress

Chavez making steady progress

OAKLAND -- A's third baseman Eric Chavez, who hasn't played in a game since undergoing microdiscectomy surgery on his back on Oct. 9, is continuing to make progress in his rehab program in Phoenix.

"He's feeling real positive about it," Oakland assistant athletic trainer Walt Horn said Wednesday before the A's opened a two-game series against the visiting Mariners.

The team is continuing to take a very cautious approach with their six-time Gold Glove Award winner, however, and Chavez hasn't yet been cleared for much in the way of baseball-related activity.

"He's doing a lot of bending and stretching," Horn said. "No swinging or fielding, though. We don't want to push him after he's worked so hard to get where he is and have him have to start over, so we're being pretty conservative."

Chavez, who also had offseason surgery on both shoulders, threw without pain throughout Spring Training and was taking batting practice on the field with the team for a couple of weeks before he was shut down completely after experiencing spasms not long after he was cleared to start taking ground balls.

Having received his second epidural injection in a five-week span earlier this month, Chavez was forced to rest several days before being allowed to start non-baseball rehab. The team has steadfastly refused to put a timetable on not just his return to the roster, but on his return to most baseball activity.

For now, he's cleared only to play catch. Hitting will be allowed before he's cleared to field ground balls, and it likely would be at least another month before he makes his 2008 debut.

"Throwing's never been an issue for him," Horn said. "His arm is great. The other things, we obviously need to ease him into."

Chavez, 30, missed the final two months of the 2007 season. He's on the disabled list for the fourth time in his 10-year career, three of the trips coming since the start of the 2004 season.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.