Now he's a do-everything reliever with Oakland, and the club's lone representative for the American League All-Star team. Major League Baseball, in conjunction with AL manager Terry Francona, made the selection after the A's were shut out in voting among fans, players, managers and coaches.
Duchscherer, 3-1 with a 1.48 ERA in 32 appearances through Saturday, received the news from A's manager Ken Macha shortly after walking into the clubhouse Sunday.
"My jaw just about hit the floor," said Duchscherer. "I had put absolutely no thought whatsoever into something like this happening. We have so many guys on this team who are deserving. It's definitely a shock."
But according to one of the players for whom Macha lobbied in the final days of All-Star voting, center fielder Mark Kotsay, Duchscherer's selection makes perfect sense.
"He's having a great year," Kotsay said. "He's been the most consistent guy on the ballclub, and consistency is what makes you an All-Star. I think he's very deserving."
As does Macha, who hopes his public stumping for Kotsay and third baseman Eric Chavez didn't leave the impression that he wasn't a huge fan of Duchscherer.
"Over the past two years, Justin hasn't just been my jack-of-all-trades; he's been my ace-of-all-trades," Macha said. "He's adapted to and handled every situation and role we've put him in since he joined the organization, and over time he's become the most versatile member of the bullpen. I can't say enough about what he's meant to this team.
"I'm very happy for him."
Acquired in a trade with Texas during Spring Training 2002, Duchscherer spent most of that season on the disabled list with a strained back, but he emerged as a top prospect the following year by going 14-2 with a 3.25 ERA with Sacramento.
He made the 2003 A's as a long reliever, posting a 3.27 ERA in 96 1/3 innings over 53 appearances. He opened this season in a similar role, but quickly moved up the bullpen ladder by succeeding in late-game situations. He's served as a setup man for most of the season, but when rookie closer Huston Street was sidelined with a strained hamstring in early June, Duchscherer picked up four saves in five chances.
"He's done everything you could ask of a reliever," Kotsay said. "He's been the middle guy, the setup guy, the closer, and he's been successful in every role."
The All-Star Game, to be held at Detroit's Comerica Park on Tuesday, July 12, at 5 p.m. PT, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.
"It probably hasn't sunk in just yet, but it's awfully exciting," Duchscherer said. "Making the All-Star team was the last thing on my mind going into the year, mainly because I try not to think about anything that might distract me from doing my job, but now that it's happened ...
"It's obviously pretty special. Very cool."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.