Thomas to hit against A's major-league pitchers

Updated: March 22, 2006, 7:42 PM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Oakland slugger Frank Thomas, recovering from a broken left ankle, is scheduled to hit against three of the Athletics' major-league pitchers Thursday.

 Frank Thomas
Thomas

Thomas has taken 22 at-bats against minor-league pitching the past three days. He took batting practice Wednesday and tested his ankle with some baserunning.

"I normally get no more than 35 at-bats during spring so I'm really on target as far as that goes," Thomas said. "I've been playing for a long time, so stepping up from Triple-A to the big leagues is no big deal. It's all about focus.

"I prefer getting eight or nine at bats every day than playing in a regular game and getting three or four at bats. That's not productive for a designated hitter."

He only ran the bases a few times, and not even at full speed, but it was enough for the day.

"Everything is working out well right now," Thomas said. "I just can't do what I used to do. I'm not going to run just to be running. I'm not going to continue to pound the thing in and let it flare up. I'll do what's necessary."

Thomas hasn't played in a game since July 20, when tests revealed the second fracture in the ankle. He signed with the A's on Jan. 25.

"I could spend the rest of spring up there [in the minor league camp] and go out opening day and be ready," Thomas said. "Timing-wise, I'm getting good quality pitches. I saw a 3-0 changeup the other day. Those guys are battling. They are good pitchers."

Thomas has been limited to 108 games the last two years mostly because of his ankle. The five-time All-Star hit 42 home runs and drove in 105 runs in 2003, his last healthy season. Thomas said he wants to reach 500 home runs when he signed. He has 448, including 12 in 34 games with the Chicago White Sox last year.

"When he gets into a game, that's his final hurdle," A's manager Ken Macha said. "Until then, he's under the care of the trainers."

Joe Blanton, Joe Kennedy and Kirk Saarloos will join Thomas in a scheduled intrasquad game. Bobby Kielty, who took batting practice Wednesday for the first time since a right oblique strain put him on the shelf two weeks ago, will also participate "if he comes through batting practice in good shape," Macha said.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press