Chavez says hand feels good

Updated: July 6, 2004, 12:18 AM ET
Associated Press

FRESNO, Calif. -- Eric Chavez got two hits and scored two runs in his first rehab assignment for Triple-A Sacramento on Monday night.

Oakland's star third baseman, who broke his right hand June 1 when he was hit by a pitch, played designated hitter and hit leadoff while facing live pitching for the first time five weeks. He wore a padded batting glove on his hand for the game against the Fresno Grizzlies.

"The hand is feeling good," said Chavez, who spoke to the media before the game but declined to talk afterward. "I'm just looking to get my timing back and see pitches in a game situation."

Chavez initially was expected to miss six to eight weeks but said he had been taking shots in his arm twice a day for the first three weeks to help his bone heal faster.

Chavez did not appear to be limited at the plate against Fresno, pulling a single to right field on his first at-bat. Chavez was intentionally walked on his next trip to the plate to a chorus of boos from the fans then eventually scored from first.

He hit an infield popup on his third plate appearance and then knocked an opposite-field single to shallow left field and eventually scored in the sixth inning. Chavez grounded out in his final two at-bats.

Chavez is expected to play at least two more games with Sacramento and said he'd like to also play third base as soon as Tuesday.

"I definitely feel like I'm ahead of schedule," Chavez said. "I'm not feeling any symptoms. I just want to get back to Oakland as soon as I can."

Before the game Chavez fielded grounders at third and softly threw to first. He also took batting practice on the field for only the third time since his injury.

The three-time Gold Glove winner was hitting .246 with a team-leading 13 home runs and 35 RBIs before the injury. Chavez signed a $66 million, six-year contract extension during spring training, the biggest deal in franchise history.

Sacramento won the game 7-2.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press