Slugging duo hope to contribute soon

Slugging duo hope to contribute soon

ANAHEIM -- On the same day that the A's welcomed left-handed hitters Eric Chavez and Ryan Sweeney back to their starting lineup, they got visits from a pair of injured veterans whose return to action would probably quiet the recent talk about the need for right-handed reinforcements.

Designated hitter Frank Thomas and first baseman Mike Sweeney, among the team's most productive hitters before being placed on the disabled list on May 29, were warmly greeted by their teammates and provided updates on their respective recoveries before the opener of a three-game series against the host Angels on Monday.

Thomas, who batted .458 (11-for-24) with four homers and six RBIs in the seven games before a torn tendon in his right quad forced him to the DL, has been rehabbing at home in Las Vegas and is scheduled to visit a Los Angeles-area doctor on Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm hoping he'll at least clear me for some [soft-toss] hitting," Thomas said. "He's a cautious doctor, and originally he said he'd probably clear me to start hitting on [July] 18th, but I feel good. I think I'm ready for something soft right now. We'll see."

Thomas said he's been doing upper-body workouts and riding an exercise bike at home, and he's planning to go to Chicago with the team after the Angels series whether he's cleared to hit on Tuesday or not. He made his big league debut with the White Sox in 1990 and played the first 16 years of career in the Windy City's South Side.

"You know I'm going to Chicago," he said. "I'm not going to miss that."

Mike Sweeney, who led the A's with a .292 batting average when he was placed on the DL with inflammation in his left knee, had arthroscopic surgery on both knees on June 11. He recently ditched his crutches, but said the knees are still swollen and sore, and he will not go to Chicago with the A's. He'll re-join the team to work with the athletic training staff during a seven-game homestand that closes out the first half of the season.

Like Thomas, Sweeney is expecting to be sent on a Minor League rehab assignment before being activated. There's no timetable for either of them.

"It's been a while," A's manager Bob Geren said. "Obviously, having their right-handed bats to balance all the lefties we have definitely helps."

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