OAKLAND -- A's third baseman Brandon Inge took part in running drills for a second straight day on Wednesday, an encouraging sign that the veteran is on track to return to the lineup when eligible Monday.
"I'm cautiously optimistic," manager Bob Melvin said. "I've been optimistic about others before and it hasn't worked out that way."
Inge, who took up residence on the disabled list last week with a strained right groin, essentially expressed the same sentiments.
"I'm hopeful for Monday, but I don't want to push it too hard," he said. "I want to make sure that this thing is completely healed. I want to give myself a very good chance of being able to go 100 percent when I get back. I think it's the smart and only fair thing to do. In the grand scheme of things, coming back a couple of days early and then pulling a muscle and missing 30 days, it's not worth it. It just doesn't seem responsible."
At the time his DL stint was made official, Inge rested for three days without undergoing any baseball activities. Since, "it's been really good improvement the last couple of days."
In his stead, Josh Donaldson has started the last 11 games at third base, where he twirled a pair of web gems in Tuesday night's loss to the Angels, one that saw him make a diving grab and a perfectly placed throw to first base from the ground.
"Unbelievable," Inge said. "He's talented, he really is."
Yet the A's won't mind having Inge's bat back. Entering Wednesday, they were batting .182 as a team with just 26 runs scored over the previous 10 contests. Donaldson, in that span, has just six hits in 35 at-bats for a .171 average. Overall, his .134 season average is strangely higher than his on-base percentage (.132) -- an oddity but possible because of one sacrifice fly and no walks.