OAKLAND -- Third baseman Eric Chavez said he is ready to bat in a game now, but still doesn't expect to be activated when he becomes eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 27. Chavez has yet to play this season after aggravating a chronic back injury while fielding ground balls in Spring Training, but he has been taking batting practice and fielding ground balls in pregame drills without any pain. At one point, when he realized he would not make the season-opening trip to Japan, Chavez thought his year might be over. But little over a month after the late-March trip, Chavez said he has felt comfortable enough to talk to management about being activated as a designated hitter.
That idea was nixed, Chavez said. "They wanted me to come back to play defense and be the complete player they signed me to be," he said. "But I haven't been limited in swinging for the longest time. It's the one thing I've been able to do that's pain-free. "But it's frustrating, because I know I could be hitting right now. I want to be helping." Chavez's bat has certainly gotten manager Bob Geren's attention. While addressing reporters before the A's played Texas on Sunday, Geren paused when he heard a familiar "thwack" from the batting cage. That was Eric," Geren said. "I heard that one." Chavez admitted having difficulty watching the A's play on television, but the team's success has made it more tolerable. He said there have been no mixed emotions while watching Jack Hannahan perform well in his position. "I want to see Jack play well, and [Donnie] Murphy when he's out there," Chavez said. "Who knows what's going to happen when I get back?" Other than rehab assignments, Chavez now will accompany the team on a daily basis. The test of Chavez's readiness will not come from the quality of his swing or his ability to run the bases. Those aren't the issues. Rather, it will come from his ability to make game-type plays. "Charging in and fielding bunts, diving," Chavez said. "It's the instinct plays defensively that I cannot control. "It's the game situation where you just go. I can't prepare for that. That will be the next program." It's also why Chavez believes he won't be ready by May 27. Even with a sense of cautious optimism, Chavez still remains limited in everything he does. He still hasn't tested himself, and every move he makes on the diamond is tightly controlled by the team's medical staff. "No, I'll be in a long rehab, more than likely," he said.
David Kiefer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.