OAKLAND -- An A's lineup in need of an offensive boost received some good news on Friday, as manager Bob Melvin reiterated that third baseman Brandon Inge should be able to come off the disabled list the first day he is eligible to be activated on Monday.
Inge, who's been on the DL since May 13 with a right groin strain, was sent to Triple-A Sacramento for a two-day rehab assignment beginning Friday. The plan was for Inge to play six innings for the River Cats on Friday and a full nine innings on Saturday. Provided there are no setbacks, Inge will rejoin the A's on Sunday and travel with the team to Minnesota, where Oakland begins a six-game road trip.
The third baseman was heating up before injuring his groin. He went 7-for-23 with four home runs and 16 RBIs in his last six games before landing on the DL, including a walk-off grand slam against the Blue Jays on May 8.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson has started the last 12 games in Inge's place, but has struggled at the plate. Donaldson hadn't tallied a hit in his last 10 at-bats going into Friday night's game against New York and was hitting just .127 for the season. His on-base percentage is even lower at .125, as Donaldson has yet to draw a walk for Oakland.
Melvin thinks Inge's return can do much to help turn around the A's struggling offense, pointing to how the team was performing at the time of his injury.
"The new Christmas toy [Inge] broke real early, and certainly based on what he was doing, we were really starting to feel good about ourselves offensively," Melvin said. "He's one of the guys that takes pressure off some of the other guys in the lineup, just based on his presence alone."
A's take cautious approach with Cespedes
OAKLAND -- Yoenis Cespedes believes he's ready to rejoin the A's lineup. His bosses say otherwise and are aiming to reinstate him toward the end of next week.
Cespedes has been on the disabled list since May 12, retroactive to May 7, with a strained muscle in his left hand, and is slated to take batting practice prior to Saturday's afternoon contest with the Yankees. It is likely that his next step would be a rehab assignment at the Minor League level.
"There's a chance of that, yes," manager Bob Melvin confirmed Friday. "He's a guy that likes to feel comfortable. Today, he was frustrated with some of his swings because he wanted his mechanics to be perfect, so I think we're getting close to being past the physical part and more about him just feeling comfortable. We want him to be comfortable when he comes back into the lineup."
"I'm getting close," a smiling Cespedes said through an interpreter.
Cespedes took 28 swings in the inside cages Friday and said he would like to return during the A's three-game set in Minnesota that begins Monday. But a rehab stint would likely push that timetable until Friday at the earliest, when Oakland is scheduled to play the first of three contests in Kansas City.
Upon his return, Cespedes plans on taking a new grip to the plate, unlike the one that may have contributed to his hand injury. He'll no longer grip the bat with the knob rested in the palm of his hand, an adjustment that will be aided by new, tapered bats.
A's right-hander Brandon McCarthy (right shoulder) played catch for the first time since hitting the disabled list Friday, and Melvin said, "He felt good." It's unknown when McCarthy will throw off a mound, or if he will be ready to be reinstated when eligible June 2.
McCarthy's replacement in the rotation, right-hander Graham Godfrey, is still on the mend after suffering an inflamed capillary in his right middle finger. When asked if Godfrey is still on track to make his next start Monday, Melvin replied, "I don't know."
Entering Friday, the A's were averaging 4.01 pitches per plate appearance, most in the Majors. Yet patience hasn't necessarily brought about much success, as the club also came in batting a Major League-worst .210, including .172 over the previous 11 games.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. Ben Estes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.