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Graveman (shoulder) nears rehab assignment

MLB.com @JaneMLB

OAKLAND -- The return of Kendall Graveman is on the horizon.

Oakland's Opening Day starter, sidelined by a shoulder injury since the end of May, is eyeing the start of a Minor League rehab assignment next week. Graveman said Saturday he's likely to pitch with Triple-A Nashville on Wednesday.

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OAKLAND -- The return of Kendall Graveman is on the horizon.

Oakland's Opening Day starter, sidelined by a shoulder injury since the end of May, is eyeing the start of a Minor League rehab assignment next week. Graveman said Saturday he's likely to pitch with Triple-A Nashville on Wednesday.

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The goal is for him to get up to three innings, or 45 pitches, before progressing to 60 pitches and, finally, 75-80. Graveman, who made just eight starts in the first half, hopes to return to the A's at the beginning of August.

"He's felt good here recently," A's manager Bob Melvin said, "so it's time to get him out and stretched out."

Graveman, who was also on the DL with a similar shoulder issue in April, most recently threw two innings of live batting practice with Class A Advanced Stockton on Friday.

"I was kind of anxious to see how I felt today, and I felt really good," he said. "There's some soreness in some of the bigger muscles instead of the shoulder and the lat and the scalp, which is good, it's normal. Right now, I think we're on a good path. The ball was coming out good yesterday. The velo was good, I threw a lot of strikes and located well. So, overall, I'm pleased with the way I felt."

Ask the right-hander about the progress of his first beard, however, and he'll be the first to note the development has been slow. But Graveman, who started growing one in competition with some of the team's other starters, isn't ready to give up on it just yet.

Even former A's catcher Stephen Vogt, now with the Brewers, noticed the trend when he saw Sonny Gray on his television Friday night, sending a group text to Oakland's staff.

"He was wondering what in the world was going on with us," Graveman said, smiling. "It's aggravating, but I can't lose in that competition either so I gotta continue to grow it."

Pinder nearing rehab assignment

Rookie Chad Pinder ran the bases Saturday for the first time since hitting the DL on June 24 with a left hamstring strain, putting him closer to a Minor League rehab assignment.

Melvin said Pinder would remain with the club for a few days to continue running drills before joining a Minor League affiliate for a few rehab games.

"I was running 100 percent out there," Pinder said. "I feel like I'm ready. I know there's still steps to take just to make sure I'm full go, but I feel great."

Worth Noting

Outfielder Jake Smolinski played catch Friday for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in March. Smolinski said he made 20 throws from a distance of 45 feet and reported no issues.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

Oakland Athletics, Kendall Graveman