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Notes: Duchscherer sharp in debut

Notes: Duchscherer sharp in debut

PHOENIX -- Sidelined by triceps tendinitis for much of the spring, righty setup man Justin Duchscherer finally made his Cactus League debut Saturday with a scoreless inning against the Rangers.

A's manager Bob Geren thought it looked like Duchscherer, a 2005 American League All-Star, hadn't missed a beat.

"Very sharp," Geren said.

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Said Duchscherer, who gave up one hit and struck out one in the seventh inning of Oakland's 5-2 win over Texas: "I felt better than I thought I would."

With Opening Day right around the corner, it's expected that Duchscherer will make three more appearances in exhibition games. It's not ideal, but Duchscherer plans to be ready for the regular season.

"I really have no choice," he said. "I'll be mentally prepared."

Geren isn't sweating it, either. Asked if he was concerned about Duchscherer's lack of work this spring, he said, "Right now, no.

"If the elbow flares up again, obviously that's a concern," he continued. "But if he gets four of five innings in, he'll be fine. And another reason I'm not concerned is the other guys we have down there [in the bullpen]."

Lefty Alan Embree and righties Kiko Calero, Chad Gaudin and Jay Witasick might all help with setup duties while Duchscherer regains arm strength.

"That was kind of the plan all along, anyway," Geren said. "Nobody's going to get worn out down there because we have so many guys who can handle different roles."

Marshall plan: Rule 5 lefty Jay Marshall will have to be offered back to the White Sox if he doesn't make the big-league team out of camp, and he's making a strong case for himself in the competition for the lone job available in the bullpen.

"He's continuing to make a nice bid to earn the spot," Geren said. "He's pitched himself into making it a tough decision for us."

Marshall, a side-armer who specializes in getting ground balls, has a 2.92 ERA in nine Cactus League appearances. If he makes the team, he'll get plenty of work as a left-on-left specialist; Geren said only three of the 15 left-handed hitters Marshall has faced have reached base.

But there's one more test waiting for Marshall, because to beat out fellow lefties Ron Flores and Brad Halsey, he'll need to show that he can eat up a few innings at a time if need be.

"I told [pitching coach Curt Young] that [I] want to see him go two or three innings now," Geren said. "If he makes the team, we might need some length out of him."

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Game notes: Shortstop Bobby Crosby, playing in back-to-back games for the first time, led off and went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly against the Rangers. He's 4-for-9 in three games and will take Sunday off. He'll play again Monday and Tuesday, probably no more than seven innings. ... Nick Swisher went 2-for-3 with two doubles, raising his batting average to .320. ... Rule 5 outfielder Ryan Goleski, for whom the A's paid $150,000 to acquire from the Devil Rays in December, faces long odds against making the team. He went 0-for-1 and is batting .146 overall. ... Dan Johnson has been distancing himself recently from Erubiel Durazo in the competition at first base. Johnson, who got off to a slow start this spring, went 2-for-3 to boost his average to .333. Durazo, who lit it up early in the spring, has scuffled of late. He went 0-for-1, dropping his average to .308.

Dribblers ...: Outfielder Bobby Kielty did some straight-line running for the first time since his March 8 knee surgery. He'll be playing exclusively in Minor League games for a while -- perhaps even as the A's break camp here and head to the Bay Area. "If he's ready to play in the field, he'll go with us," Geren said. "If not, he'll stay here and keep working." ... Righty Rich Harden will get his work in at the club's Minor League complex Sunday morning, allowing Geren and his staff to get one last look at righty prospect Jason Windsor as a starter. ... Gaudin, who has been nursing a bone bruise under his right big toe, said he was pleased with his 30-pitch effort in a simulated game Friday but is looking forward to getting back into a more competitive environment. "It's hard to get [adrenaline] going when you turn around and there's nobody on defense behind you," he said.

Up next: Windsor will face the visiting Mariners in a 1:05 p.m. start Sunday 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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