Balfour encouraged by continued progress

PHOENIX -- Grant Balfour's ahead of schedule, just as he planned.

The A's closer, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee just 11 days ago, did a round of flat-ground throwing on Monday morning and is hoping to throw a bullpen within the next week.

"My arm feels great," Balfour said. "My leg has a little bit further to come, but it's getting there."

Balfour estimated he made between 25 and 30 throws, something he'll do again in a day or two before evaluating how soon he can throw off a mound.

Should Balfour continue to progress without any setbacks, the right-hander could potentially enter Cactus League action in roughly two or three weeks, giving him plenty of time to make a handful of appearances before the regular season begins.

That falls right in line with the recovery timetable of four to six weeks that the A's projected when Balfour came out of surgery.

"The way I feel now is really encouraging," he said. "I told myself I wanted to be ready for the season, so I'm going to continue doing whatever it takes to get ready."

The A's won't let him rush the process, though.

"I saw him the other day trying to sneak in on a drill," manager Bob Melvin said, smiling.