Eric Chavez is back, hopes to come off DL soon; other A’s tidbits

It was an unusually warm afternoon here at the Coliseum. Typically, the temperature drops significantly once the sun goes down, but it’s feeling like it might be a short-sleeves night all the way.

–Eric Chavez made a surprise appearance in the A’s clubhouse today. He showed up a couple days earlier than expected, and he’s hopeful of starting baseball activity and beginning a minor league rehab assignment in about a week or so. Of course, that timeframe should be considered tentative. Chavez, who went on the DL May 22 with two bulging disks in his neck, has been recuperating at home in Phoenix. All indications are he’s recovering well, but first he has to show he can swing and run without pain.

“Hopefully when the team leaves (for a road trip that begins June 15) I’ll be going on rehab,” he said.

–After starting the A’s first 56 games, first baseman Daric Barton finally gets a day off, with Adam Rosales spelling him. Not a bad time to do it, with Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano on the mound. “I don’t think I need a rest, but it’s good to rest your body,” Barton said. “We’re facing a tough lefty, and it gets ‘Rosey’ in there. He’s been swinging it well.”

Barton is hitting .281 with four homers, 22 RBIs and 16 doubles, and he’s currently riding an 11-game hitting streak. He’s been the No. 2 hitter all season, and he’s definitely at his best when leadoff man Rajai Davis is getting on base. Barton handles the bat well and is a good bunter. And it’s gotta be nice facing a pitcher whose mind is occupied when Davis is on base.

“He’s been our most consistent guy at the plate all year,” A’s manager Bob Geren said of Barton.

–Ryan Sweeney also gets a night off. I was a little surprised he played last night, just a day after he took a knee to the head as he and Mark Ellis chased a foul pop-up against Boston. Sweeney still isn’t quite feeling 100 percent after the collision, Geren said, but he’s available tonight if needed.

–Geren said he’d try to avoid using closer Andrew Bailey tonight, but noted that Bailey has pitched in three straight games before. But Thursday’s outing was a two-inning effort, so I doubt we’ll see Bailey tonight. So who might get the call in the ninth if the A’s are protecting a close lead? Brad Ziegler is my guess …

–Justin Morneau has the stomach flu and is absent from Minnesota’s lineup. The Twins are also without shortstop J.J. Hardy, a late scratch because of a left wrist contusion:

A’s — Davis CF, Ellis 2B, Suzuki DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Rosales 1B, Fox C, Gross RF, Pennington SS, Patterson LF; Cahill RHP.

Twins — Span CF, Tolbert 2B, Mauer C, Thome DH, Kubel RF, Young LF, Valencia 3B, Harris 1B, Punto SS; Liriano LHP.

Joe Stiglich