OAKLAND -- When Frank Thomas was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right quadriceps tendinitis May 29, Eric Chavez made bigger headlines by appearing in the starting lineup for the first time all season after having battled back problems.

And when the Big Hurt returned to the A's clubhouse Wednesday after a long absence -- most of his rehab time was spent at home in Las Vegas -- he was, yet again, the side note of Oakland headlines.

As Thomas sat quietly by his locker, attention was directed at the other side of the room, where newcomer Sean Gallagher, acquired in Tuesday's six-player deal that sent Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin to the Cubs, described his initial reactions of being in Oakland.

Thomas doesn't want the attention, though. He's just relieved to be back with his teammates -- the new and the old. Since the time he was sent to the DL, Oakland has made 34 transactions, including Tuesday's blockbuster deal.

"I was shocked," he said Wednesday before the A's took on the visiting Mariners. "I was flying back from the doctor yesterday and got off the plane and saw the breaking news about the trade and thought, 'What?'

"I've been around so long, though, that I'm used to the way things work in baseball. I'm just glad to be here, and I know that no matter who you have in the clubhouse, you gotta win."

The 40-year-old slugger, who was signed for his second stint with the A's as a free agent on April 24, said he won't be able to help out the winning process until the beginning of August, but he will be starting hitting activity within the next two days -- a slow start, but a start nonetheless.

"I don't want to push it," he said. "My doctors are being very careful with me because my muscles are a little bigger than most people, so my body responds differently to certain movement because of my size."

Before being sidelined, Thomas was batting .458 with four home runs and six RBIs over his final seven games -- numbers that would obviously help a team that owns the second-lowest batting average in the American League at .249. The designated hitter's presence in the clubhouse alone, though, is almost as important as his presence in the lineup.

"Having Frank here is always nice," manager Bob Geren said. "Just a good guy to have around."