PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) -Oakland manager Bob Geren still hasn't decided if he will take third baseman Eric Chavez to Japan for the Athletics' season-opening, two-game series against the Boston Red Sox.
Chavez hasn't played in a game this spring and was only recently cleared to resume scaled-down workouts less than two weeks after receiving an injection to help ease inflammation in his lower back.
``I haven't ruled anybody out until they're out,'' Geren said Sunday. ``We're just going to go day to day to see how he feels. The good news is he's feeling better each day.''
It appears unlikely that Chavez would be ready to play against the Red Sox on March 25-26. He took batting practice for the third straight day and played catch on the side but has yet to run or do any fielding activities.
Oakland will embark on a 12-hour flight to Tokyo on March 19 which could also aggravate his back.
``It's possible he could go on the trip and not play,'' A's head athletic trainer Steve Sayles said. ``I don't know how likely that is but if we haven't cleared him to play then it's (the organization's) decision whether or not he goes. I think they feel the same way. It would be more advantageous if he stayed here and got work done.''
Chavez isn't concerned one way or the other. He is pleased with his progress so far and is taking a slow but optimistic approach.
``Outstanding,'' Chavez said Sunday when asked about his back. ``The only thing I'm doing is feeling good. I'll worry about everything else later.''
Chavez was held out of Sunday's game against Milwaukee and the A's aren't certain when or if he'll get into a game at all before the trip to Japan.
He had corrective surgery in October after missing the final two months of last season with lower back spasms and was limited to 90 games, his fewest since breaking into the majors full time in 1999. On Feb. 29 he received an injection to help ease inflammation.
``He feels good. I'm happy about that,'' Geren said. ``When he had the setback I didn't really know exactly but he's hitting the ball really well. We're just going to go day to day to see how he feels. The good news is he's feeling better each day.''
Chavez is on a program where he throws every day while the team monitors his batting. There have been no setbacks so far but the team has yet to have him field groundballs. Because Chavez is limited to agility drills and hasn't resumed running, the A's have held off using him as a designated hitter.
``He needs to be healthy, number one, and ready to play,'' Geren said. ``The amount of games or at-bats just depends more on his health. I won't put anybody in a game unless they're ready to play.''

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