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Notes: Haren gets Opening Day nod

Notes: Haren gets Opening Day starting nod

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PHOENIX -- What's been fairly obvious for a while now was confirmed Sunday when A's manager Bob Geren announced that righty Dan Haren will start against the host Mariners on Opening Day.

"I'm very excited," Haren said. "But I'm not gonna make too much out of it because we've got some good pitchers. Obviously Rich [Harden] is deserving, too."

Harden will make his 2007 debut in the finale of that three-game series (April 2-4) at Seattle's Safeco Field, leaving him in line to start Oakland's home opener April 9.

"Danny's gonna start Opening Day. Harden's gonna start the home opener," Geren said. "I feel like they're both No. 1 spots, so it's kind of an equal reward."

Geren wouldn't divulge the rest of the rotation, but that, too, appears obvious -- assuming righty Esteban Loaiza's shoulder doesn't give him any more trouble and lefty Joe Kennedy hangs onto the No. 5 spot.

Haren pitched Sunday against the Angels, Loaiza is scheduled to face the Padres on Monday, Harden works Tuesday, righty Joe Blanton on Wednesday and Kennedy on Thursday. That's the order in which they'll likely work to start the regular season. The A's like the idea of splitting up Haren and Harden because they have similar, hard-throwing styles.

Geren said there were several reasons for giving Haren the nod on Opening Day.

"He's pitched 440 innings for us in the past two years, and he's been very consistent," explained the skipper. "His stuff's good, he added a pitch [cutter], and he worked hard all winter. He's ready."

Haren, who gave up two earned runs on five hits and two walks while striking out one over 5 2/3 innings Sunday, has been overshadowed somewhat -- by Harden and former ace Barry Zito -- during his first two years with the A's, but said it doesn't bother him.

His wife, Jessica, is another story. Last season, when the couple drove past a billboard featuring Zito near the Oakland Coliseum, Jessica asked Dan, "Why don't you get a billboard?"

"I've always been under the limelight, but I like it that way," Haren said.

Medical report: Shortstop Bobby Crosby (back) played five innings on defense during an intrasquad game at Papago Park, and he's still on track to make his Cactus League debut Wednesday night against the host Royals in Surprise. ... The plan for righty reliever Justin Duchscherer (triceps tendinitis) has changed yet again. On Friday, it was said that Duchscherer would make his Cactus League debut Sunday. On Saturday, it was pushed back to Monday. On Sunday, Geren said Duchscherer will pitch batting practice Monday and make his debut Wednesday instead. ... Outfielder Bobby Kielty (knee) has been working in the cage with hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo. Geren said Kielty is "progressing nicely." ... Outfielder Hiram Bocachica, who was sent home Saturday with what Geren called a "non-baseball-related condition," was unable to play again Sunday.

Spring Training
News and features:
Multimedia:
• Loaiza on being healthy:  350K
• Young on Harden's spring:  350K
• Huston Street on A's bullpen:  350K
• Crosby close to game action:  350K
• Stewart ready to play every day:  350K
Spring Training info:
MLB.com coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

Game notes: Outfielder Danny Putnam, borrowed from Minor League camp for the day to start in left field for the split-squad game at home against the Angels, doubled home the first two runs of the game after Marco Scutaro and Travis Buck drew two-out walks in the bottom of the second inning. Another loaner from the Minors, outfielder Richie Robnett, hit a two-run walkoff triple in the bottom of the ninth. ... Catcher Jason Kendall couldn't have made a more perfect throw in thwarting an attempted steal of second base by Angels leadoff man Reggie Willits. Second baseman Mark Ellis didn't even move his glove after setting it down in front of the bag as a target, as Kendall's throw hit the glove a split-second before Willits slid into the tag. ... Geren said he's been pleased with the defensive work of first baseman Erubiel Durazo, who was mostly a designated hitter during his first stint with the A's (2003-05). Durazo made two nice plays against the Angels and went 1-for-3 at the plate. He's batting .355 this spring and ranks third on the team with 10 RBIs. ... In Oakland's split-squad game at Tucson, righty Jason Windsor held the Diamondbacks to a run on four hits over four innings and was backed by a three-run homer from Nick Swisher, who pulled into a tie with Mike Piazza for the team lead in RBIs (11). Also in Tucson, non-roster righty reliever Mike Mitchell extended his streak of scoreless outings to seven with one shutout inning.

Dribblers: The A's trimmed the roster again after Sunday's game, sending infielder J.J. Furmaniak to Minor League camp. Several other cuts were planned, but Geren said most of those players were in Tucson, and he wanted to speak with them before giving their names to the media.

Up next: Loaiza on Monday will make his first Cactus League start since shoulder tightness forced him from a March 9 game. He'll face the visiting Padres, who are scheduled to start righty ace Jake Peavy, at 1:05 p.m. at Phoenix Muni.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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