Ellis' hitting is ahead of his throwing
Recovering second baseman to miss month of spring games in field
PHOENIX -- A day after A's third baseman Eric Chavez announced that he'll sit out the first week of Cactus League games, Oakland's head athletic trainer said Mark Ellis won't be cleared to play second base in the first month of Cactus League games.
Tuesday's news was far less of a surprise, but no more cause for alarm. Both players are recovering from right shoulder surgery, and the ultimate goal is to have them both ready by Opening Day on April 6 in Anaheim.
"That's the date that matters," said athletic trainer Steve Sayles.
Chavez is right on schedule in that regard, but because Spring Training is a week longer this year as a concession to next month's World Baseball Classic, the A's are playing it safe by easing him in with a personalized program.
"His whole Spring Training schedule is planned," Sayles said, "and his schedule has him able to play on March 3. Will he [play March 3]? I don't know. But if he doesn't, that won't mean he's had a setback. It could mean we just want to give him more time."
Ellis isn't as far along in his throwing program as is Chavez, but the news about Ellis on Tuesday was actually quite positive.
Before camp opened, Ellis suggested that he wouldn't play at all until the final week or so of Spring Training games, hoping to squeeze in 30-35 at-bats. He's been hitting on the field with his teammates, though, and things have gone so well that he'll likely be cleared to start hitting in games immediately.
"Swinging the bat doesn't bother me at all," Ellis said.
Thus, Ellis should be able to get more than enough work in at the plate while serving as a designated hitter in Minor League games.
"We have Mark cleared to play second base [for the first time] March 25," Sayles said, "but he can start hitting right away."
Position players don't have to report to camp until Wednesday, with the first full-squad workout set for Thursday, but Papago's fields were alive with batting practice again Tuesday. Ellis was in a hitting group that included Chavez, new outfielder Matt Holliday and shortstop Bobby Crosby.
Among the players who checked in for the first time Tuesday were outfielder Rajai Davis, first-base prospect Chris Carter and non-roster infielder Tagg Bozied. The only projected regular not yet checked in is Jason Giambi.
Tuesday also marked the fourth day of mass bullpen sessions, so every pitcher has now thrown off a mound twice. None of the pitchers will throw Wednesday, and on Thursday the group that went first in the day-on, day-off rotation will throw batting practice on the field.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.