OAKLAND — Third baseman Eric Chavez has hit yet another roadblock in his return to health.

Already on the disabled list with a right elbow injury, Chavez underwent an MRI on Monday that showed he has a bulging disk in his back. He was scheduled to fly to Phoenix on Tuesday night to get examined by Dr. Rob Blackaby of the Desert Institute of Physical Therapy.

A's manager Bob Geren said Chavez came down with back spasms Sunday, prompting the MRI. The news puts an indefinite hold on Chavez's return and adds another chapter to his continuous injury struggles.

Chavez was pointing toward Friday as a possible return date, but Geren said this setback delays Chavez's return "a couple of weeks for sure." Chavez had microdiscectomy surgery on his lower back in October 2007, and the recovery period sidelined him for the first two months of the 2008 season. It was one of four operations he's undergone since September 2007.

Meanwhile, fellow third baseman Nomar Garciaparra (strained right calf) took infield practice Tuesday, and the A's hope he might be ready for this weekend's series in Detroit.

Short hops


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After getting hit by a nasty flu bug on the A's last road trip, reliever Brad Ziegler is now regaining his strength from an asthma attack last week. Ziegler experienced asthma symptoms before a May 5 game against the Los Angeles Angels but pitched a scoreless inning that night. His condition worsened that night and the next day, and the A's sent him for chest X-rays. "I hadn't had an asthma attack in 15 years," he said. "I thought I had outgrown it. They think (the flu bug) triggered it. I feel OK at times, but I know my strength level is not what it was before." After not pitching for eight straight games because of the flu, Ziegler said the only way for him to return to form is to keep throwing. ... Dallas Braden was wearing an Ace bandage on his swollen left hand after being struck by a line drive Sunday. He'll try throwing a bullpen session today. The plan is for Braden and Brett Anderson to pitch Friday and Saturday in Detroit, or vice versa. But Anderson is still questionable with a blister on his left index finger, Geren said. If one or both can't go, Sean Gallagher and Dan Giese are candidates to replace them.

— Joe Stiglich