TOKYO -- The A's received some discouraging news from Phoenix about third baseman Eric Chavez, whose recovery from a lower back injury has hit a road block.

A's head athletic trainer Steve Sayles said Chavez has been shut down from baseball activity for the time being because he's experiencing pain in the left side of his lower back, a different location from the pain that required he get an epidural shot back on Feb. 29.

"He's having some pain on the left side," Sayles said. "He's going back to rehab. He started taking ground balls when we left (for Japan on March 19), and started having some pain. It's his left side now, it was his right before."

That strongly suggests the six-time Gold Glove winner will begin the season on the disabled list. The A's open the regular season Tuesday at the Tokyo Dome against the Boston Red Sox. They have to have their roster set by 1 p.m. on Tuesday local time, which would be 9 p.m. West Coast time on Monday, so a decision on Chavez will be made then. The hope was that Chavez could play in some minor league games in Phoenix while the A's were in Japan, and that hopefully he could be ready April 1 when the team resumes the regular season in Oakland.

Sayles doesn't have a time table for when Chavez might continue baseball activity. And though he said Chavez isn't scheduled to see a doctor right now, he wouldn't rule it out for the future.

"We're not putting a timetable on it," he said. "We want Eric to be healthy and pain-free."