Andrew Bailey is finally back, but it may be a few games before he's solidly back in his closer's role.

Bailey, who had not pitched in a major league game since last Sept. 17, subsequently had elbow surgery then suffered a forearm strain setback in spring training, was activated before Sunday's game. He pitched a scoreless seventh inning Sunday in Oakland's 6-4 victory over Baltimore.

The A's don't want to rush their hard-throwing right-hander into the ninth inning after he's spent so much time out of commission.

"We're obviously pleased that he's back. It makes a good bullpen even better," said manager Bob Geren. "Off the bat, I'll use him in non-save situations. We'll start with one and go from there and find out how he looks, how he feels. When he's ready to assume the closer's job, I'll give it back to him."

Geren didn't say how many outings Bailey might need to be ready for the ninth inning. "We have to get him in there and keep him in sharp," Geren said. "And we also have to get him an inning or two or three, whatever it takes, to get him where he feels 100 percent ready. He has not gone back-to-back, either, and that's something we have to monitor and establish when he can do that."

Bailey is fine with that program. He's been careful all along in his rehab work.