The good news is that All-Star right-hander Justin Duchscherer, who hasn't pitched since leaving an Aug. 18 game in Minnesota with soreness in his surgically repaired right hip, was told by his Tennessee-based surgeon that pitching again this year isn't out of the question.
The bad news is that second baseman Mark Ellis, who has played in just two games since injuring his right shoulder in that same August series against the Twins, left the team Sunday to fly back to the Bay Area for an MRI.
"He's been feeling better, but he felt like he'd reached a plateau," A's manager Bob Geren said of Ellis on Monday before the scheduled opener of a three-game series against the host Tigers at Comerica Park. "So he flew back home from Baltimore to get looked at again. ... He wants to play."
Whether Ellis or even Duchscherer will play again this season won't be determined for at least a few days. Ellis' MRI will determine the next step for him, and Duchscherer's visit with A's orthopedist Dr. John Frazier will do the same.
Geren said Duchscherer was scheduled to visit with Frazier on Monday in the Bay Area.
Why would the A's would risk putting Duchscherer, their only accomplished starter, back on the mound during the final few weeks of what's become a lost season from a competitive standpoint? Geren suggested that returning to action could do wonders for Duchscherer's peace of mind.
"It's always good when a guy can come back and pitch, so he knows where he is going into the offseason," the skipper said.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.