Baseball activities next step for Eckstein

Baseball activities next step for Eckstein

LOS ANGELES -- Padres infielder David Eckstein saw the question coming, because it's the one he's been asked often for the last week or so.

When is he coming off the disabled list?

Eckstein, who on Wednesday missed his 14th consecutive game with a right calf strain, jogged on the field, ran backward and tested his lateral movements for the second time in as many days.

But he has yet to put on his cleats, which would be a sign that he's close to full baseball activities. That would mean taking ground balls in pregame and batting practice.

"We're taking it slowly, gradually through the process," Eckstein said. "Step one for me was yesterday, step two is today. It's going well so far."

Eckstein, who has never had calf issues in his career, said that he's well beyond the point of having cabin fever.

"Oh, we're long past that," Eckstein said, smiling. "You get to the point where you just want to feel good. But we want to make sure this has completely healed."

When Eckstein returns from the disabled list -- and that will be next week at the earliest -- it appears shortstop Everth Cabrera could be headed to Triple-A Portland to play every day.

That would allow manager Bud Black to use Eckstein and Jerry Hairston at second base, newcomer Miguel Tejada and Hairston at shortstop and Tejada at third base when Chase Headley sits against left-handed pitchers.