Chavez opens season in DH role
A's veteran spent most of Spring Training at first base
OAKLAND -- Eric Chavez still carries four gloves with him on a daily basis.
The probability of him using any of them, though, is seemingly becoming more and more unlikely.
That's the message he took from the club's decision to designate slugger Jack Cust for assignment on Saturday. Both general manager Billy Beane and skipper Bob Geren made it clear to reporters that day that Chavez would resume full-time designated hitter duties. However, two days later, neither Beane nor Geren have yet to speak to Chavez about the situation.
"I really don't know what the plan is for me right now," Chavez said Monday as the A's prepared to open the season against the visiting Mariners. "I'm not sure if I'm playing at first a little still. They haven't really told me anything."
Luckily, Monday's Opening Night lineup let him know he's the DH. Where he'll be Tuesday, or a week from now, is unknown.
"That's a really good question, because I just planned on Jack being the DH from the beginning and they were going to need me on the field," Chavez said. "So things have changed. I really don't know what they want me to do. I'll just kind of play it by ear and make adjustments as we go along. They know I can play in the field, I just don't know how much they want me there."
The 32-year-old Chavez appeared in 13 games at first base this spring and broke camp with the assumption that he'd be playing three to four times a week there during the regular season. However, Saturday's news has left him questioning why he spent so much time grooming his surgically repaired back and shoulders to acclimate to a new position when the club now wants him solely focusing on hitting.
At the same time, Chavez realizes that being a productive offensive contributor was his primary goal heading into camp and understands his newly formed DH role could give him the best chance to fulfill that objective.
"Nobody's told me one thing," Chavez said, "but having to DH, I could play more games. Not throwing a baseball gives me the best opportunity to do that. They're obviously giving me the opportunity to do that, so I'm going to take advantage of it."
Chavez made his 11th Opening Day start, tying Jimmy Dykes for second-most in Oakland history. He also marks the A's sixth different Opening Day DH in the last six years.
"We'll see how he holds up there," Geren said. "Having him in the DH role gives him the best chance to get the at-bats he needs."
At the very least, Chavez is simply pleased to be healthy.
"It definitely feels good to be here," he said. "The goal is not just to be here Opening Day, even though it's definitely a step forward, but to be here at the end of the year. If I'm here at the end of the year, that means I've stayed healthy."
If placed in the DH role on a fairly regular basis, Chavez will have to specifically keep watch on his right shoulder. The back-and-forth movement involved with swinging a bat, though, doesn't give him any back issues.
Health will continue to be a question for the remainder of Chavez's career, but for now he'd rather just concentrate on the task at hand.
"All I know is I'm DH'ing tonight, and it's going to be fun for me to be out there," he said. "I have a job. I'm employed. I have a uniform. I'll do whatever they want me to do."
Cahill out indefinitely with neck pain
OAKLAND -- Entering Monday's opener, little was known about the injury forcing A's starter Trevor Cahill to start the season on the 15-day disabled list.
Cahill, who competed with Gio Gonzalez for the fifth spot in the rotation all spring before revealing a left scapula stress reaction Saturday, couldn't offer much more information Monday.
In fact, the A's righty has "no idea" when he'll return to the mound. He said the neck pain began at the end of last season and resurfaced following his Minor League start on March 29, but the only thing he can do at the moment is to not do anything.
"They told me to take a few days off from throwing," Cahill said, "and then we'll take it from there."
The 22-year-old pitcher made 32 starts as a rookie last season and was expected to have the edge for a rotation spot entering camp. However, his injury -- combined with a strong showing from Gonzalez -- led the A's to go with the left-hander. Gonzalez is slated to make his 2009 debut in Anaheim on Friday.
Right-hander Michael Wuertz (shoulder) threw at a distance of 80 feet Sunday and was scheduled to throw again Monday. He'll continue rehabbing with the team until he's ready to make a Minor League appearance. ... Coco Crisp (pinkie fracture) reiterated Monday he's unsure of a timetable on his return to the field. The A's outfielder could be out 3-8 weeks. ... Before Monday's home opener, Andrew Bailey was presented his 2009 American League Rookie of the Year award by former A's shortstop Walt Weiss, who garnered the same accolade in 1988. Bert "Campy" Campaneris was also honored for his induction into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. ... Mark Ellis has now started an Oakland record seven Opening Day games at second base in the last eight years. The previous record was held by Dick Green. ... Travis Buck became the A's 11th different Opening Day starter in left field in the last 11 years, and Ben Sheets represented the club's fifth different starting pitcher in the last five years.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.