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03/30/07 1:45 PM ET

Johnson out for up to three months

Athletics first baseman sidelined by torn cartilage in left hip

Already dealing with the absence of center fielder Mark Kotsay for the opening phase of the regular season, the A's got more bad news on the injury front with Thursday's revelation that first baseman Dan Johnson may miss as much as three months with a hip injury.

Three days after suffering what was initially diagnosed as a hip flexor injury, further tests revealed Johnson suffered torn cartilage in his left hip in a Cactus League collision with Colorado's Yorvit Torrealba.

The club gave no official word on how long the 27-year-old is expected to be out. His absence will depend on the severity of the tear and appropriate treatment.

"It depends on the treatment and what they plan to do," Oakland manager Bob Geren told The Associated Press. "He's being evaluated further. We'll have a timetable after he's evaluated."

The injury to Johnson, who was batting .294 with two homers and six RBIs in exhibition play, could signal the return of Erubiel Durazo to the Majors.

Durazo hit 47 home runs during his own injury-plagued 2003-05 stint with the A's, and did not appear in the big leagues last season. The 32-year-old left-handed power hitter is batting .283 with two home runs and 14 RBIs this spring.

"I don't like to see anybody get hurt," Geren said. "But the team will have to go on, and Dan, when he's healthy, will go right back."

Johnson was injured in a collision with Torrealba at the first-base bag during Monday's Cactus League game. He departed immediately afterward.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.