OAKLAND -- A's third baseman Brandon Inge took part in running drills for a second straight day on Wednesday, an encouraging sign that the veteran is on track to return to the lineup when eligible Monday.
"I'm cautiously optimistic," manager Bob Melvin said. "I've been optimistic about others before and it hasn't worked out that way."
Inge, who took up residence on the disabled list last week with a strained right groin, essentially expressed the same sentiments.
"I'm hopeful for Monday, but I don't want to push it too hard," he said. "I want to make sure that this thing is completely healed. I want to give myself a very good chance of being able to go 100 percent when I get back. I think it's the smart and only fair thing to do. In the grand scheme of things, coming back a couple of days early and then pulling a muscle and missing 30 days, it's not worth it. It just doesn't seem responsible."
At the time his DL stint was made official, Inge rested for three days without undergoing any baseball activities. Since, "it's been really good improvement the last couple of days."
In his stead, Josh Donaldson has started the last 11 games at third base, where he twirled a pair of web gems in Tuesday night's loss to the Angels, one that saw him make a diving grab and a perfectly placed throw to first base from the ground.
"Unbelievable," Inge said. "He's talented, he really is."
Yet the A's won't mind having Inge's bat back. Entering Wednesday, they were batting .182 as a team with just 26 runs scored over the previous 10 contests. Donaldson, in that span, has just six hits in 35 at-bats for a .171 average. Overall, his .134 season average is strangely higher than his on-base percentage (.132) -- an oddity but possible because of one sacrifice fly and no walks.
Manny's May 30 arrival not set in stone
OAKLAND -- Though the A's sent out a release last week stating Manny Ramirez "is scheduled to play his first game with the A's May 30 in Minnesota" barring any rainouts, manager Bob Melvin said Wednesday it's not a guarantee.
"We want to get him close to 40 at-bats and, whether or not we get there in 10 days, I don't know," Melvin said. "We're not locked into the 30th. We want to make sure he's productive, he's feeling good about his swing, he's getting his hits -- all of those things you want to see when, potentially, he gets here. I'm not sure on the 30th, and it's going to be a progression each and every day. We certainly hope that's the case."
Ramirez was scheduled to play in his fourth game with Triple-A Sacramento in Round Rock, Texas, on Wednesday evening, after going a combined 3-for-8 with two walks and three strikeouts in his previous three contests. He missed Sunday's game because of a sore left wrist.
Ramirez was originally slated to play in a total of 10 games with the River Cats, before his 50-game drug suspension concludes on his May 30 birthday. But that time could be extended if the A's choose to keep him in the Minors longer while delaying what should be a difficult roster decision.
Upon Ramirez's return, the club will have to make both 40-man and 25-man roster moves. For the latter, it's possible Daric Barton gets optioned to Triple-A, considering he has options left, unlike Kila Ka'aihue, who has also proved more consistent at the plate this season.
Right-hander Graham Godfrey, who allowed four runs in just three innings against the Angels while dealing with a sore right middle finger on Tuesday, said Wednesday he was doing better and will go about his normal routine as scheduled, putting him on track to make his next start on Monday in Minnesota.
Outfielder Collin Cowgill received quite the birthday surprise when he stepped to the plate on Tuesday for his first at-bat, as a loud chorus from the crowd sang "Happy Birthday."
"That was something special," said Cowgill, who turned 26. "I got the goosebumps. I wanted to step out of the box for a second just to take it in."