OAKLAND -- Vladimir Guerrero's immediate reaction when Josh Beckett's 96 mph fastball crashed into the base of his right hand on Monday in the first inning at Fenway Park was that it was extremely painful -- and serious. "I thought I had broken it when he first hit me," Guerrero was saying before Tuesday night's game against the A's at McAfee Coliseum, the hand encased in protective black wrapping. "Now it's a matter of waiting until [the swelling] goes down." Guerrero, who spent Tuesday undergoing various treatments for a contusion of the hand, didn't think he'd grip a bat in his hands again until Friday when the Angels return home from a rough trip across America to face Seattle. Reggie Willits was in right field for the series opener against Oakland, which wraps up on Wednesday afternoon.
Losing the main man for a couple of days, rather than a couple of months, was an enormous relief to the whole organization. "Actually, it feels much better than it could have," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Hopefully, he'll be ready to go on Friday. That's what we're shooting for. He might be available tomorrow to pinch-hit, if he can, but right now that's unlikely." Guerrero, who broke his left hand in 1997 and twice last season was hit on the right hand with pitches, absolved Beckett of any blame. "I didn't think there was any intention," Guerrero said. "It's not uncommon; I get pitched inside. Sometimes after you get pitched inside you hit a home run off them. It's something I'm used to. When I was with the Expos I was pitched inside a lot, too." Scioscia, who protested a warning issued to both dugouts after Guerrero was struck, said pitching inside -- and occasionally hitting a batter -- is "part of baseball, and always will be. Guys are going to crowd big hitters. You have to get it in there with guys who are dangerous or they'll put a swing on it and hit it hard." Guerrero said he's never been comfortable wearing batting gloves and wouldn't wear any of the protective gear Barry Bonds totes to home plate. "Vlad doesn't like gloves, anything [inhibiting]," Scioscia said. "He's just a ballplayer." Figgins smiling again: Chone Figgins passed a significant test on Tuesday afternoon. The third baseman took swings against live pitching, from pitching coach Mike Butcher, and also played catch with Butcher, cutting loose with some of his 40-50 tosses to see how the right index and middle fingers -- fractured during Spring Training -- would respond. "I've got to get that soreness out of my fingers, get them in shape," he said, grinning. "I know that sounds strange, but it's true. When I had the splints taken off, I'd lost feeling in the tips of the fingers. I'm just starting to get that feeling back. "When I was playing catch with Butch, I was lobbing like a pitcher throwing changeups, without the fingertips. I finally got mad and started throwing normally, and it felt all right. I started to flex the fingers a little more." Figgins, who plans to throw across the diamond this weekend when the Angels return home, has been going a little stir crazy watching his team flounder on the road trip and not being able to hurl himself into the action. "I've never had to sit this long, going all the way back to Little League," Figgins said. "Not being able to compete, help out, man, that's been tough." Taking swings against Butcher, Figgins said he hit one ball off the end of the bat that rattled his hand and another on the hands, on an inside pitch, that "stung for a few minutes, then felt good." Hillenbrand dropped in order: DH Shea Hillenbrand, hitting .138 after missing almost a week with a groin muscle strain, was dropped from No. 5 to No. 7 in the order, with Maicer Izturis hitting second between Gary Matthews Jr. and Orlando Cabrera. "He doesn't think that anything that's happening now is because of the groin," Scioscia said. "Hilly is trying to get back in a groove. I'm dropping him back to take a little pressure off him." Hillenbrand thinks he's found his stroke taking extra swings with hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. "No excuses," Hillenbrand said of the groin. "It's something I have to deal with. It happens over the course of a season. I feel good now. I've been doing some great work with Mickey. You want to produce for the team, and there are times when you take it personal when you don't." Jones designated for assignment: With the activation of Jered Weaver for Tuesday night's game, right-handed pitcher Greg Jones was designated for assignment. He has 10 days to be released, traded or accept a Minor League assignment. Jones, 30, was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake on April 13 to replace Kelvim Escobar (15-day disabled list, shoulder irritation) and gave up five earned runs in three innings in two appearances. Jones has a 6.00 ERA in 31 career games with the Angels, who signed him as a Minor League free agent in December 2004. Up next: John Lackey (2-1) takes on Dan Haren (0-2, 2.00) on Wednesday in a rematch of an April 6 duel taken by Lackey, 2-1, in Anaheim. The road trip finale is at 12:35 p.m. PT.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.