TEMPE, Ariz. -- Third baseman Eric Chavez all but admitted on Monday that his expectation of being available by Opening Day may have been dashed by the recent setback involving his surgically repaired back.

This past Friday, Chavez had to have an epidural administered to alleviate stiffness in the L4-L5 area of the back where he underwent microsurgery to repair damaged discs in November. Chavez, 30, is also recovering from labrum surgery in both shoulders.

But right now the back is the major issue. Asked if this latest episode had stalled his return, Chavez told reporters:

"Yeah, so far it's set me back about three days' worth. I'm not going to worry about it. I'm going to play it day-by-day and see what happens."

It was the first time Chavez had appeared in the A's clubhouse since he had the epidural. As the team went through its morning paces at Phoenix Municipal Stadium only hours before playing the Angels on the road at Tempe Diablo Stadium, Chavez took treatment.

"It's hard. I've got to get loose," Chavez said. "I came over here because I was having a hard time trying to get loose over at the Minor League complex."

Chavez played only 90 games last season because of the assorted injuries, batting .240 with 15 homers and 46 RBIs. He hasn't played a full season since 2005, when he appeared in 160 games.

A's manager Bob Geren said he's intent on remaining optimistic as far as Chavez's availability is concerned.

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"Right now I'm staying very positive with him because all his rehabs went so well this winter," Geren said. "This was just a minor setback. He got the treatment to hopefully calm it down. I'll know more about that and where he is in a week or two."

Chavez said his back stiffened when he began to participate in baseball workouts upon arriving at camp with the position players less than two weeks ago. Because the stiffness persisted, Chavez said he decided to take a conservative route and that the epidural was administered to reduce inflammation.

"It started when I put on cleats and took part in some baseball activity," he said. "During the winter it was totally different. It was so controlled. You get on the baseball field and it's just a different environment. I could do a lot of things at home that I couldn't practice in the baseball environment."

Thus Chavez said he has no idea what the timetable will be for him to play until he returns to activity.

"I really won't know how I feel until I'm back out on the field," he said. "Obviously everyday life and playing baseball is completely different. This has been more about bending over to take ground balls [than swinging the bat], I imagine."