OAKLAND — A's designated hitter Mike Sweeney will have arthroscopic surgery Wednesday to repair damaged cartilage in his left knee, a procedure expected to keep him out four to six weeks.
It's discouraging news for a team that's also making due without slugger Frank Thomas, whose return date from a right quadriceps injury is still unknown.
Sweeney has been on the disabled list since May 30 and his knee hasn't responded well to treatment since then.
"I knew from the beginning something wasn't right," Sweeney said before Sunday's 7-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. "I was trying to run and my knee was locking up and catching. It just felt like there was a piece of gravel in there." A's team orthopedist Dr. John Frazier will perform the surgery.
Sweeney, 34, said he'll head to San Diego for about two weeks following surgery to rehab with a therapist he worked with last season, when he had right knee surgery while a member of the Kansas City Royals.
He's been told he might be able to resume baseball activity in three to four weeks.
Injuries limited Sweeney to 134 games combined over the past two seasons. But he earned a spot with the A's after a great spring camp and was hitting .292 in 120 at-bats when he went on the DL.
If his offense will be missed over the next several weeks, no doubt his leadership and infectious personality in the clubhouse also will be.
Sweeney played through pain in his right knee throughout the early weeks of the season. Ironically, he thinks the problems in his left knee started because he was over-compensating for the pain in his other knee.
"My right knee has been bothering me for most of the year but I was proud of the fact I played through it," he said. "But due to that, now my left knee is injured. Does it hurt? Yes. Do I have any regrets? No, because I was being the best teammate I could ever be."
With a six-game interleague stretch in National League ballparks beginning Friday against the Giants, the A's won't have use for a DH, lessening the loss of Sweeney and Thomas.
A's manager Bob Geren said he's hopeful Thomas can return shortly after that.
Andrew Brown was activated from the disabled list Sunday, and the A's latest bullpen addition certainly was needed. Brown, who was recovering from an appendectomy, pitched 11/3 innings, as Geren burned through five relievers during the 12-inning affair.
"Anytime a guy puts up a zero, you look at him and ask, 'Can you go one more?', because you don't want to run out of (relievers)," Geren said.
Dallas Braden was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for Brown, leaving Alan Embree as the only left-hander in the bullpen.
Reliever Santiago Casilla (strained elbow ligament) moved a step closer to returning by throwing a 29-pitch simulated game Sunday. He's scheduled to make a rehab appearance for Single-A Stockton on Tuesday and a second one for Sacramento, possibly Friday. Geren thinks two outings will have Casilla ready to be activated.
Angels starter Ervin Santana, who has a 1.38 career ERA against the A's, allowed two runs in 61/3 innings Sunday. He struck out nine. "... Eric Chavez served as the A's designated hitter and went 3-for-4 with two RBI. "... Center fielder Carlos Gonzalez delivered an RBI single in the fourth for the A's second run. That was his first non-double out of eight hits to start his career.
— Joe Stiglich