Oakland A's MLN: Notes From Extended Spring

The Oakland A's full-season minor league affiliates are off to strong starts, and they figure only to get better, as several talented players currently at extended spring training could join those clubs in the coming months. We have updates on Michael Taylor, Sean Doolittle, Brad Kilby, Ben Hornbeck, Brett Hunter, Scott Hodsdon, Andrew Carignan, Matt Thomson, Ryan Ortiz and James Simmons inside.

Taylor Stuck In Neutral

Michael Taylor's recovery from a spring training wrist injury has been a lot of hurry up and wait thus far, as the outfielder has yet to return to game action. On Tuesday, Taylor indicated that he was scheduled to take his first swings on Wednesday and depending on how he feels after that, he will start to work towards getting back on the field.

Taylor said he had a couple of cortisone shots in the wrist roughly a month ago, but they didn't reach the injured area, so he had another shot last week.

Kilby Taking It Slow

Brad Kilby's rehab from shoulder surgery has slowed from the pace that he was on before a spring training setback, but the left-hander expects to return to the mound either this week or next and is working towards a goal of being sent out to a full-season affiliate between June 15 and July 1.

During the off-season, Kilby had been working on new mechanics, but after he suffered a lat strain during spring training, he and A's rehab coordinator Garvin Alston and A's minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson decided to have Kilby return to his original mechanics.

"We all three felt that my mechanics weren't the issue, it was the amount of pitching I did in such a short span," Kilby said via e-mail on Monday.

"If it was a mechanical issue we think I would have broken down earlier in my career because I usually pitched in around 50 games a year which is a decent workload for a reliever."

Kilby also decided it was best for his overall career to slow down his rehab to make sure he didn't rush back before he was ready.

"The goal isn't just to get back and play this year it's to get back and play for many years. Too many guys have rushed back before they were ready and re-injured themselves or ended their careers and we certainly don't want that," Kilby said.

If Kilby returns to regular season action between June 15 and July 1st as planned, it will be roughly 11 and a half months from when he had the shoulder surgery.

Doolittle Making Progress

Outfielder/first-baseman Sean Doolittle has progressed to the next stage in his rehab. He is now playing two games and then is taking one day off to recover. Once he can play several days in a row, Doolittle will be ready to join a full-season club, likely Triple-A Sacramento.

According to A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman, Doolittle is handling the rehab with seemingly no problems and is dealing with the normal adjustments to playing regularly after having so much time away from the field.

Hornbeck, Hunter, Hodsdon Improving

Pitchers Ben Hornbeck, Brett Hunter and Scott Hodsdon are at extended spring training to work on mechanical adjustments and all three are making good progress, according to Lieppman.

Lieppman indicated that all three have been throwing the ball effectively and that when there are roster openings on the full-season rosters, all three will be candidates to be sent out.

Ortiz, Thomson and Carginan In Game Action, Simmons Almost There

Rehabbing prospects Ryan Ortiz (shoulder), Matt Thomson (shoulder) and Andrew Carignan (foot) are all participating in extended spring games. Ortiz has been playing regularly as the DH, but has yet to be able to catch in games. According to Lieppman, Ortiz is making progress in recovering from his shoulder injury, however.

Thomson, the right-hander who burst onto the scene last year when he had a 1.94 ERA in 51 innings in his professional debut season, threw an inning in an extended spring game on Tuesday. If his shoulder feels strong after pitching that inning, he will begin the process of being built up to be ready to pitch in the regular season.

Carignan, who had a stress fracture in his foot that left him in a walking boot for much of spring training, is recovered from that injury. He is currently throwing regularly in extended spring training games and is essentially recreating his spring training. After he has thrown 10-15 innings, Carignan will likely be sent out to a full-season club.

Right-hander James Simmons, the A's top pick in 2007, is almost ready for extended spring game action, according to Lieppman. Simmons missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. Once he is pitching in games, Simmons will be built up as if it was spring training.

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