OAKLAND -- For a while now, A's manager Bob Melvin has been talking about the much-needed reinforcements coming to bolster his weakened lineup. On Monday, the help finally begins to arrive.
Melvin said on Sunday that third baseman Brandon Inge, who was on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Friday and Saturday, will travel with the team to Minnesota after Sunday's series finale against New York and will be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Monday, the first day he's eligible to come off. Inge will be in the lineup for the first game of the series with the Twins.
The 35-year-old has been out since May 13 with a right groin strain, but if his performance in Triple-A is any indication, Inge appears to be fully healthy again. After collecting a hit and a walk on Friday night, he erupted for five hits in five at-bats for Sacramento on Saturday, including a grand slam and a solo home run. All told, he tallied seven RBIs.
"I tested it pretty good there," said Inge. "I guess with the groin injury, it's new for me, I've never really had one before. I still have to be a little cautious no matter what, but so far, so good. Felt comfortable at the plate, I tested it a few times in certain running situations. It feels good to be back."
Inge's return should boost an Oakland offense that came into Sunday having scored just eight runs in the first five games of the team's homestand. The A's ranked last in the Major Leagues in hitting with a .210 batting average entering the finale vs. New York.
Signed by the club on April 30 after being released by Detroit, Inge is hitting .227 for the A's but was 7-for-23 with four home runs and 16 RBIs over his last six games, including a walk-off grand slam against Toronto on May 8.
"It'll be great to get him back," Melvin said. "Any of the guys that we're getting back, certainly, [are] guys with track records, guys that are important to us in the middle of the lineup, guys that we expect to drive in runs for us. I think everybody's excited about getting those guys back, and it starts [Monday] with Inge."
Young players in the A's lineup, like Josh Donaldson, have struggled while filling in for Inge, and Melvin has talked about how the veteran's presence in the order helps alleviate the pressure on the younger players.
Godfrey sent to Sacramento, Carignan recalled
OAKLAND -- After struggling again in his second stint with Oakland this season, right-handed pitcher Graham Godfrey was optioned back to Triple-A on Sunday, with fellow right-hander Andrew Carignan recalled from Sacramento to take his place.
Last season, Godfrey recorded a 3.96 ERA for the A's in five appearances, four of them starts. But it's been a different story in 2012. He allowed nine earned runs in 16 innings in the three starts he made in April in his first stint with the club, and wasn't much better after being called up again earlier this week.
Starting in place of injured right-hander Brandon McCarthy, Godfrey, who was dealing with a sore middle finger on his pitching hand, lasted just three innings against the Angels in a start on Tuesday, and was hit hard in relief against the Yankees on Saturday. The 27-year-old has a 1.21 ERA in 29 2/3 innings for Sacramento, but those numbers haven't translated to the Major League level.
"You just need to take the next step, and a lot of times that's the confidence level at the big leagues," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "And there were times where he pitched really well for us last year, so it's not like he hasn't had some success here. He just hasn't been able to sustain it. Part of it is we've kind of moved him in and out of roles to an extent, and that can be difficult, too, but at the big leagues, that's the way it is. It's performance-based."
Another factor in the decision to send down Godfrey was the desire to have a fresh arm in the bullpen, which Oakland gets with Carignan, who hasn't pitched since Tuesday. Left-hander Travis Blackley will get the start on Monday in Minnesota, but Blackley, though a starter most of his career, has pitched exclusively in relief in the Majors this season, and hasn't stretched his arm all the way out.
Knowing that, Melvin wanted another arm in the bullpen since he said he expects Blackley to only throw 80-90 pitches against the Twins, depending on how well he does.
Carignan has allowed four earned runs in nine relief appearances with Sacramento this season, good for a 2.70 ERA. This is his third stint with Oakland this season. The 25-year-old has allowed five earned runs in 6 1/3 innings of work for the A's.
Cespedes progressing rapidly toward return
OAKLAND -- Third baseman Brandon Inge is set to return to the A's lineup on Monday, and power-hitting center fielder Yoenis Cespedes may not be far behind.
Cespedes has been on the disabled list since May 12, retroactive to May 7, with a strained muscle in his left hand. He went through a full pregame workout on Sunday for the first time since getting injured. Oakland manager Bob Melvin said that everything went well, and Cespedes will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Monday.
The rookie could be activated from the DL in time for the A's series against the Royals, which begins in Kansas City on Friday.
"I think that's probably reasonable, but you don't want to put timetables on him like that," Melvin said.
The 26-year-old Cespedes was leading Major League rookies with 21 RBIs and four stolen bases before the injury, and was tied for the lead in home runs with five.
After not doing much baseball activity in the period right after his injury, Cespedes' recovery has accelerated greatly. He still hadn't swung a bat when the week began, but he gradually progressed through several rehab steps, from light-intensity hitting in the indoor cage to full-intensity dry swings and, finally, batting practice on Saturday.
"Physically, he's been keeping himself in great shape," Melvin said. "We've been waiting for when he's been able to swing the bat with no complications. [The hand] feels 100 percent, so I don't think we're rushing that."
To prevent future problems with the muscles in his hands, Cespedes ordered new, tapered bats, and has said he plans on changing his grip -- he'll no longer wrap his left hand around the knob at the base of the bat.
Outfielder Manny Ramirez continues to try and get comfortable enough to join Oakland while playing for Triple-A Sacramento. A's manager Bob Melvin said Ramirez is still in "Spring Training mode," and will only be brought to the A's when he feels ready to do so. Ramirez has gone 6-for-25 (.240), all singles, with Sacramento.
Ben Estes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.