HOUSTON -- A's shortstop Jed Lowrie played catch on Tuesday for the first time since going on the disabled list with a fractured right index finger, an encouraging sign that may mean he's close to a rehab assignment.
"Hopefully, if that goes well, then maybe we speed things up with him," manager Bob Melvin said. "He's been doing everything he can to stay game-ready with taking ground balls. I know he's been doing some one-arm swinging in the cages. So today's a big day in how fast we move forward with him."
Lowrie is eligible to come off the DL on Thursday, but it seems more likely the A's will have him back sometime next week during a homestand that begins Monday.
Another rehabbing infielder, Nick Punto, is making equally significant improvement from a right hamstring strain, which has shelved him since the beginning of the month. He, too, could be sent out on a rehab stint soon.
"Everything's going well," Punto said Tuesday. "The running is that final step. Being able to go 100 percent, that's the key. I feel like I'm pretty close, maybe 90 percent. We're trying to take it day to day, not look too far ahead, but I do feel like I'm getting close."
"If we can take a few days with him and get him running to the point where we're comfortable with potentially getting in a game or two," said Melvin, "that's something we want to do sooner than later because the month's running out here pretty quick."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.