ANAHEIM -- Less than a week removed from emergency brain surgery after being hit in the skull by a batted ball, A's righty Brandon McCarthy continues to make steady progress and could even be heading home soon.
That was the good news relayed from Angel Stadium on Monday via A's head trainer Nick Paparesta, who said McCarthy's doctors "are all very happy with how he's doing and the progress that's been made" since he was struck by a line drive Wednesday.
The 29-year-old McCarthy, now stationed in a transitional care unit at a Bay Area hospital, walked down the hallway on Monday and went up and down four steps using a handrail. He was to be evaluated by physical therapists in the evening.
"The neurologist was very happy with the results of his examination today," Paparesta said. "I think that we're a little more comfortable with where he is and how he's doing. He's been able to spend some time on his phone and text some of his teammates back and kind of go back and forth a little bit with them."
His teammates began a four-games set in Anaheim on Monday, and inside the home clubhouse, Erick Aybar -- whose line drive hit McCarthy -- expressed concern for the pitcher.
"It's been hard," Aybar said through a translator. "You never want that to happen. We may be on different teams, but I don't wish harm upon anybody. I always want things to turn out well."
Aybar left McCarthy a cell phone message and received a call back from McCarthy's wife, Amanda, who filled him in on her husband's encouraging progress.
He's had several visitors in the past few days, including Oakland pitcher Andrew Carignan, and Paparesta noted many have said they "feel he's definitely kind of being himself again."
Weeks returns to A's in reserve role
ANAHEIM -- A humbled Jemile Weeks returned to the A's in Anaheim on Monday, but not to the everyday second-base job he left behind when optioned to Triple-A Sacramento three weeks ago.
Weeks joined first baseman Daric Barton and righty Jesse Chavez in making the trek down south, after Sacramento concluded its playoff run Sunday, and he's expected to lend the A's some help off the bench while Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales continue making the majority of starts at second base.
"Whether or not it's some speed off the bench, whether or not it's pinch-hitting, leading off the inning, there are quite a few different avenues we can use him," manager Bob Melvin said. "If he were to come in a game, get a few hits, get hot -- we've shown here we'll play the hot hand from time to time. We are happy with what we have at that position right now, but you're never sure how things are going to work out down the line."
Melvin said he hasn't decided when he'll get Weeks his first start. When awarded one, though, the infielder is looking forward to showing off an improved plate approach. In his time with the River Cats, after batting just .220 in 113 games with Oakland, Weeks worked on raising his bat angle to enable himself to reach the zone quicker.
"Last year it was higher and this year it was falling down," Weeks said. "I feel like I'm in control at the plate now. I think it was the right move for me. I think it was a good adjustment. It's still a work in progress, but at the same time I saw some success with it, so I'll try to stick with it."
The numbers would suggest as much, as Weeks compiled a .333 average with four doubles and 10 RBIs in 10 games with Sacramento.
During that span, he also regained focus and, in turn, confidence.
"I think it was more just being committed to what you're doing at the plate, in the field," he explained. "I'm definitely a confident player, but there were times at the plate where I wasn't committed to what I was doing. It's believing that what you're going to do is going to work. When you face a lot of failure, you might question that."
Barton brings different approach from Minors
ANAHEIM -- Daric Barton is back, and with him is an aggressive plate approach that was previously missing.
Called up on Monday following a 74-game stint with Triple-A Sacramento, Barton acknowledged that aggressiveness is "obviously something that was lacking." So the normally patient hitter has concentrated on pitch selection.
"That was the biggest thing for me," he said. "I'm happy with where I'm at."
Still, Barton hasn't lost the ability to draw a walk, as he tallied 66 of them in his 74 Minor League games, to go along with a .255 average and eight home runs. He hit just one homer in 37 games with the A's to start the season, after failing to hit any in 2011.
But Barton likely won't be seeing many starts with the A's down the stretch, with the powerful platoon of Chris Carter and Brandon Moss holding its own at first base. Barton said he believes he can give the team a defensive option or a left-handed bat off the bench if needed. Manager Bob Melvin concurred.
As for his future, specifically with the A's, Barton isn't interested in discussing it just yet.
"I've learned to embrace where I'm at, and I'm not guaranteed to be here tomorrow, so I'm going to do what I can today," he said. "I'm happy for these guys and I'm happy to be a part of it, and hopefully I can do my part in helping them win."
The A's on Monday called up righty Jesse Chavez, who was acquired from the Blue Jays on Aug. 24 for cash considerations. He posted a 1.80 ERA in two games (one start) for Triple-A Sacramento and also tossed eight scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in the River Cats' playoff victory Thursday.
Chavez will pitch out of the bullpen for the A's. Though he's not expected to see much action in the coming weeks, he gives them long-relief depth.
Of the surging A's, he said, "They're playing really well, playing good fundamental baseball. You kind of just want to come in and help out right away."
Lefty Jordan Norberto (shoulder) has yet to resume throwing, and it's unclear whether the reliever will pitch again for the A's this season.