OAKLAND -- The A's are hoping that the activation of right-hander Michael Wuertz on Monday will start something of a domino effect in getting a handful of other injured players back to full speed.
Regulars Mark Ellis, Kurt Suzuki and Travis Buck are gradually resuming baseball activity, manager Bob Geren said on Monday.
Ellis (strained left hamstring) and Buck (strained right oblique muscle) are currently rehabbing in Arizona, while Suzuki is taking it slow with an intercostal strain in the Bay Area. The Oakland catcher underwent different forms of exercise Monday, and Geren mentioned the club is still "hopeful" he'll be able to return from the disabled list when eligible on Sunday.
Ellis could come off the disabled list as soon as Thursday, but the second baseman has only gone through three days of his rehab program, so giving him extra time is not out of the question. Along the same lines, Buck still feels soreness in his right side, making a Thursday return date unlikely.
The A's currently have eight players on a packed disabled list and have not had fewer than five on the DL since April 28 of last year.
Duchscherer has inflammation in strained hip
OAKLAND -- The date of Justin Duchscherer's next start is still a mystery, but fortunately the same cannot be said of the right-hander's diagnosis.
Duchscherer visited Nashville-based physician Thomas Byrd on Monday, who found inflammation in the pitcher's strained left hip.
The Oakland starter, who left Thursday's game in Toronto in the fourth inning, will receive a cortisone shot Tuesday and resume throwing in a few days if all goes well. The A's decided to keep him off the disabled list for the time being.
Right-hander Vin Mazzaro, who made 17 starts for the A's last year before a shoulder injury ended his season, will take Duchscherer's rotation slot Tuesday against the visiting Rangers. The 23-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.59 ERA in five games -- four starts -- with Triple-A Sacramento.
The A's have not officially announced the move, and manager Bob Geren didn't mention whom the club will designate to make room for Mazzaro.
Duchscherer, meanwhile, will wait to see how his hip responds to the cortisone shot. Byrd is the same doctor who performed both of the surgeries on his right hip, the first of which came on July 11, 2007, and the second took place Sept. 29, 2008.
Following Tuesday, Duchscherer's next scheduled start would fall on May 11, but two off-days before that give the team flexibility with how to handle the rotation until Duchscherer is given a clean bill of health.
Wuertz more than ready for season debut
OAKLAND -- Michael Wuertz's Spring Training lasted slightly longer than he would have liked, but the right-handed pitcher couldn't have been welcomed back into the big league fold at a more suitable time.
As the A's continue to deal with a lengthy list of injuries, they revealed a dose of rare good news Monday in the form of Wuertz's activation from the disabled list, where he was sidelined with right shoulder tendinitis since April 3.
To make room for Wuertz on the club's 25-man roster, the A's optioned Brad Kilby to Triple-A Sacramento. The left-handed reliever, recalled April 23, did not allow a run in four of his five outings -- the most impressive one coming Sunday in 3 2/3 scoreless innings of work at Toronto.
Wuertz, meanwhile, made just two spring appearances before being shut down. In six rehab outings -- four with Triple-A Sacramento and two with Class A Stockton -- he allowed no runs, seven hits and three walks while fanning six.
"He feels good," said manager Bob Geren, "and is ready to go."
In fact, Wuertz feels more than ready for his season debut.
"I think, after going through what I did, I almost feel better than I ever have starting a season," the right-hander said. "The only thing that's a little weird is getting back into the baseball realm.
"It was hard watching the games or listening to them on the radio on my drives to Sacramento and San Jose. I feel ready to go -- it's just a matter of getting out there now."
Wuertz will look to extend a scoreless streak that dates back to last season, when he didn't allow a run over his final 13 1/3 innings. The 31-year-old went 6-1 with four saves and a 2.63 ERA in a team-leading 74 appearances during a 2009 season in which he was one of the top set-up men in the American League.
OAKLAND -- Kevin Kouzmanoff committed his third error of the season Monday, tying the number of errors he compiled all of last year. Offensively, the third baseman has now hit safely in eight of his past nine games (13-for-39) after batting .210 over his first 16 contests. ... Cliff Pennington went 1-for-4 in Monday's contest and struck out three times for the first time in his career. ... Rajai Davis has a 10-game hitting streak against the Rangers and is batting .366 over that span. ... Ryan Sweeney has reached base safely in each of his past 36 home games, dating back to August 14 of last year -- the third-best streak in Oakland Coliseum history.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.