Notes: Sweeney hopes for chance

Notes: Sweeney hopes for chance

PHOENIX -- Mike Sweeney's leadership qualities have already been evident in the A's clubhouse, and it's no wonder.

Sweeney was only one of four captains in Major League Baseball during his time with the Royals. The others were the Yankees' Derek Jeter, the White Sox's Paul Konerko and the Red Sox's Jason Varitek. Those three still remain as Sweeney this spring is trying to make the Oakland roster on a Minor League contract.

"It's an honor given to you, not for what you're going to do, but for what you've done with that team," Sweeney said recently. "So you have to realize you're not only representing your team on the field, but also off the field. It was an honor because there were only four. Now there are three in all of baseball."

What made it even better for Sweeney was that he was handed the title personally by George Brett, long after the Hall of Fame third baseman retired in 1993.

"Brett was the one who handed me the title," Sweeney said. "It was quite an honor because he's Mr. Kansas City Royal. So I wore it with pride, but I realized that when I got it it was a distinct honor. The award was given to me in front of the team by Brett. That really made it something special."

It's too early, of course, for Sweeney to be a real factor on the A's as he's trying to go about his business. By his own criteria, he might be able to act as an unofficial captain, but he has no service time with the team to be formally awarded such an honor.

"I'm going to be a leader whether I make the team or not, but the first thing is I've got to make the club," he said. "As long as I'm here I'm going to be a leader for the guys."

Crosby update: Shortstop Bobby Crosby was back in the starting lineup on Wednesday after missing two games because of back spasms.

He was scratched from Monday's lineup against the Angels after his back stiffened up while taking grounders during batting practice. Crosby homered against the Rockies in his last appearance on Sunday.

A's manager Bob Geren delayed writing out the starting lineup until Crosby was cleared through batting practice on Wednesday.

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Harden, Duchscherer status settled: The decision has been made. Rich Harden will make his second start on Saturday in Phoenix Muni in a split-squad doubleheader, this one against the Cubs.

Justin Duchscherer will make his first start and second appearance in Peoria against the Mariners. Harden is expected to stretch out to 60 pitches over four or five innings, and Duchscherer is slated for 40 pitches over three innings, said pitching coach Curt Young.

According to Geren, the decision was made in tandem with Young. Harden has to be about a week ahead of Duchscherer because he's starting the A's second game of the season against the Red Sox in Japan on March 26. "This is good, isn't it?" Harden said.

This and that: Right-hander Joey Devine, who was suffering from back spasms, has pitched off the mound and may be ready again for game action this weekend, Geren said. Devine has been out since Monday. ... Third baseman Eric Chavez was out of camp on Wednesday because his wife is having an induced birth. His playing status should be reevaluated on Thursday because he was told to rest for five days after having had an epidural to alleviate inflammation in his surgically repaired back this past Friday. ... Keith Foulke is also awaiting his wife to give birth. Foulke, who threw to batters on Tuesday to great raves from the staff, is slated to throw again off the mound on Friday. ... Chad Gaudin, recovering from surgeries on his left hip and right foot on Dec. 18, has been targeted to throw in game action on March 17, St. Patrick's Day, in Phoenix against Kansas City. The A's break camp for Japan two days later. It's possible that since the A's won't need a fifth starter until April 12 at Cleveland, Gaudin could open the season on the disabled list.

Up next: The A's play the Cubs at Phoenix Muni on Thursday. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will get his first start for the A's against veteran Cubs right-hander Jason Marquis. Gonzalez was one of three players obtained by the A's when Nick Swisher was traded to the White Sox on Jan. 3.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.