TORONTO -- Rehabbing hurler Rich Harden, nursing a sore lat muscle, had a successful bullpen session with hitters standing in on Thursday morning and is now geared to throw live batting practice on Monday.

"I feel good," Harden said. "I'm ready to go."

Before he's allowed to step on a big league mound again, though, the A's right-hander will have to take part in a simulated game before being sent on a Minor League rehab assignment.

Manager Bob Geren would like to see Harden throw in at least two games -- a one-inning stint and a two-inning outing -- before deciding whether a starting or relief role is best for Harden.

Ellis gets into game despite ear troubles

TORONTO -- Mark Ellis nearly missed the chance to check off career game No. 1,000 because of a left ear infection on Thursday, but the A's second baseman was feeling well enough by the eighth inning of an eventual 2-1 Oakland victory to enter for defensive purposes and reach the milestone.

Ellis, who said that his ear pain first surfaced before Wednesday night's game, saw a doctor in Toronto on Thursday afternoon and was cleared to play after being given antibiotics. He called his 1,000th game "anticlimactic" after the day's events, but was at least happy to tally a hit in his only at-bat -- a ninth-inning single to left-center.

The team was initially concerned about what effect Ellis' ear was going to have on his ability to make Thursday night's charter flight to Minnesota, where the A's are set to begin a three-game series on Friday afternoon.

On Thursday morning, manager Bob Geren didn't rule out the possibility of Ellis being driven to Minnesota, which is nearly a 16-hour journey.

"That doesn't sound like a lot of fun," Ellis said.

The Oakland veteran, who said he felt "like a two-year-old missing a game because of an earache," noted a feeling of fullness in his ear, as well as dizziness, which is why the team didn't want him playing at first.

"When the blood gets pumping," he said, "you can lose your equilibrium."

Ellis is now 5-for-20 to start the season. He represents the 13th player in Oakland history to reach the honorable 1,000-game mark.

Worth noting

Geren said Andrew Bailey (forearm) is close to getting on the mound again and is expected to do so before the end of the club's nine-game road trip, which concludes on Wednesday. ... Hideki Matsui slid down to the sixth spot for Thursday's contest, and Geren explained that he's inclined to place Matsui or David DeJesus in that hole when the team faces a left-hander. DeJesus received the day off Thursday, while Conor Jackson got a start in right field.