Inside Pitch: Chavez's Golden Arm Rusting

Winning four Gold Glove awards is quite an accomplishment. But to win them when you have a bum shoulder makes what Eric Chavez has accomplished the last four years all the more impressive. Chavez sat out the three games last week, just being the designated hitter, to rest a shoulder that has given him problems throughout his career.

Eric Chavez never previously let on how much the shoulder bothered him, but the increased pain this year has made it more difficult to make accurate throws.

"People say I throw the ball sidearm," Chavez said. "A lot of it is because I can't get my arm all the way up. It's definitely affected the way I throw. You look at most of the errors I've made, 90 percent of them are throwing. To me, that's the easier part of making the play. It's been somewhat frustrating, especially this year."

After the 1998 season, Chavez was given the option of having surgery on his labrum, but he didn't want to begin his career with surgery and committed to rehabbing the shoulder.

That might be something Chavez has to revisit at the end of season. He's had numerous MRIs over the years, including one last Monday, but the A's aren't thinking surgery will be necessary.

A's trainer Larry Davis said both Chavez and second baseman Mark Ellis are proof you can play in the majors with a torn labrum or rotator cuff. It's just a matter of pain tolerance.

On balls hit down the line this year, Chavez admitted he throws the ball on 1-2 hops purposely.

"I honestly couldn't make the throw," Chavez said. "The only time I can make a good throw is when I have all my momentum going to first base. Anytime I have to back up on the corner, I know that I have no chance."

Barry Zito: Numbers Can Be Deceiving

If Barry Zito had the courage to look at a box score, he saw his name followed by numbers that seem to bear little resemblance to reality.

After the A's 6-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night, Zito stood at his locker and discussed how another game in which he might easily have given up no runs ended up with him allowing five.

And how his record stands at 3-8, despite two solid months of consistently strong work.

"If you stay negative ... weep in your sorrow and pity yourself, you can take it to an extreme and you'll end up in a mental hospital," Zito said.

Zito was able to take solace in the fact that he had allowed one run and one hit through six innings. And the four-run seventh that decided the game involved fluke hits by two of the first three hitters.

"That's the nature of the game," Zito said. "It can kind of spiral on you if you let it. I try to just take something positive out of it."

The key moment in the game was in the seventh, just after Pat Burrell had led off with a single. Jim Thome squeezed a slow roller between third baseman Eric Chavez and shortstop Bobby Crosby, even though the two were playing only about 30 feet apart around the bag in an exaggerated shift against the left-handed pull hitter. Chavez pulled up on the ball because he saw Crosby out of the corner of his eye.

After the A's failed to get an out on that play, one run scored on a wild pitch and another on David Bell's bloop single. Chase Utley then doubled on a 2-0 fastball. Two more runs scored on Todd Pratt's double against Kiko Calero, and quickly the Phillies had turned a 1-0 lead to a 5-0 lead.

Rich Harden Coming Back

RHP Rich Harden gave up one hit in three scoreless innings for Triple-A Sacramento in a rehab appearance on Friday night. Harden struck out seven and did not walk a batter. He was scheduled to throw 60 pitches, but he needed only 36, including 30 strikes. He then threw more pitches on the side and proclaimed himself 100%. The A's agreed and announced on Tuesday that Harden would return from the disabled list against Seattle.

Scutaro The Super Hero

INF Marco Scutaro might hit ninth for the A's, but he's become the ideal batter at the plate in the ninth inning of a tied game.

Scutaro did it again Wednesday, delivering his fourth game-winning hit and fifth game-winning play since joining the A's last year, a run-scoring single up the left-center gap to beat his former team, the New York Mets.

"I heard (Mark) Kotsay said, 'you know he's going to get it done,' and then we he did, he said, 'I told you,'" said reliever Justin Duchscherer, who picked up the win with two scoreless innings of relief. "It's almost like automatic. It seems like every time he's in that position, he gets it done."

Pinch hitter Bobby Kielty walked to begin the ninth off Royce Ring (0-1), went to second a sacrifice bunt by Keith Ginter, then pinch hitter Scott Hatteberg was intentionally walked by Roberto Hernandez.

Nick Swisher struck out swinging, then Scutaro beat his former team with a drive to left-center that brought home the game winner. The A's claimed Scutaro off waivers from the Mets on Oct. 9, 2003.

"It feels good against any team," Scutaro said. "But if it's against a team you played on before, it feels a little better."

Other Notes

-- RHP Juan Cruz was sent to Triple-A Sacramento to go into the rotation. The A's said Cruz needs more innings to straighten himself out. Cruz had an 8.49 ERA in 21 games with the A's, 19 of them losses.

"(Cruz) hasn't been very productive. Right now, he's been an inning here, an inning there. He hasn't really gotten a lot of action. That's self-inflicted also. I think (starting) would help get him more pitches. He hasn't had a whole lot of pitches. The starting rotation is in flux, so to speak. Perhaps if he went down there and started, he can make himself a candidate." -- A's manager Ken Macha on pitcher Juan Cruz, just before Cruz was demoted to the minors.

--SS Cliff Pennington, the A's top pick in this month's draft, officially signed his contract and took some batting practice with the team. Pennington will report to Class-A Kane County (Ill.) next week.

--RF Nick Swisher hit his first home run in 117 at-bats Thursday, dating back to April 13, and it came with two strikes. Before the game, country music star Kenny Chesney -- egged on by A's players -- autographed a baseball for Swisher that read, "Nick, nice two-strike approach." Swisher admitted he was trying to hit the ball 500 feet in the ninth inning Wednesday against Roberto Hernandez, when all the A's needed was a single to win the game. He hit another homerun on Monday and added a two-strike, RBI double to boot.

--CF Mark Kotsay hit a home run Thursday that was just the fourth by an A's hitter in the first inning this year.

--DH Erubiel Durazo visited with elbow specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum on Thursday in Anaheim to get a second opinion on his elbow, which hadn't gotten any better the last two weeks after physical therapy.

--RHP Jared Lansford, a high school pitcher drafted by the A's in second round, has some big league representation. Jared's dad, former A's third baseman Carney, enlisted the services of Dave Stewart, Carney's teammate on the A's 1989 World Series team, to represent Jared. Stewart is now an agent, and his star client is A's 3B Eric Chavez.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1-5 -- Record by A's starters who subbed for the injured Rich Harden. Oakland was 1-2 in three games started by Seth Etherton and 0-3 in three games by Ryan Glynn. The subs averaged 5 1/3 innings and compiled a 6.61 ERA combined.

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