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More on Chavez

The A’s are still holding out hope that Eric Chavez will be able to return healthy next season. A’s assistant GM David Forst says that Dr. Robert Watkins, who will perform Chavez’s June 23 back surgery, believes Chavez can rehab and be ready for spring training in February. But Forst added that the picture will be clearer after surgery. I’d certainly expect the A’s to pursue a full-time alternative at third base during the offseason, and the front office has hinted that will be the case. But Chavez has a year left on his contract (at $12 million), and he’s been determined to give the A’s some production in return for that.

Watkins also performed Chavez’s microdiscectomy in October 2007. It’s worth noting that this is not the complicated spinal fusion surgery that has been mentioned as an option for Chavez, which would definitely end his career. But Chavez told me recently that any type of surgery, even microdiscectomy, would probably leave his back too unstable to play. Tough to predict what this means for his future … Former A’s outfielder Mark Kotsay is one player who has had two microdiscectomy surgeries and returned to the field …

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Talking Vinny

No doubt, you’ve read or heard the big news by now. With Vin Mazzaro’s promotion in mind, here’s a recap of some of the points director of player personnel Billy Owens made about him when we talked a recently.

On Mazzaro’s progress: “He’s definitely taken a strong step forward in the past 18 months. He has an exceptional arm, and can top out at 96 or 97 mph, and his ball has natural sink. Last year, and really most of this year, he’s gotten to the point where he’s trusted his fastball and sinker a lot more, and he’s pitched more comfortably at 93 or 94 (mph).

On his offspeed stuff: “His soft game has gotten a lot better. His overall command has gotten a lot better. His ground ball-to-fly ball ratio was very strong last year, and the rest of his ratios have been where they need to be, and it has stayed that way. … ”

Personally. I’m a tad surprised that Mazzaro is coming up now. I would say it’s reminiscent of the day in June of 1999 when the A’s recalled Tim Hudson. But that A’s eam was going places, and this team clearly isn’t. It also starts his service time clicking early, and likely means that he’ll be eligible for arbitration one winter early.

I asked assistant general manager David Forst about that very thing last week. His response: “Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world that always allows you the luxury” of bringing up a player at the most idealistic time for a franchise. There may be other teams out there with the options to do that, but right now, we don’t have it.”

Incidentally, Melissa Lockard of scout.com has a very good piece discussing Mazzaro’s promotion.