A's center fielder Coco Crisp typically wears his hair in tight braids, but he sported a huge Afro on Thursday, reminiscent of former Major Leaguer Oscar Gamble in the '70s.

Why so?

"My head was itching," Crisp said before the series opener against Detroit. "My braids."

Reliever Grant Balfour told Crisp he should get a shampoo commercial, joining Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.

"Baseball needs somebody," Crisp said.

Asked about Crisp's new look, A's manager Bob Geren said, "Yeah, yeah, a little retro look. He got a big hit for us [Wednesday]. That was good to see."

Wuertz almost ready for rehab assignment

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Right-handed relief pitcher Michael Wuertz took another big step Thursday in his recovery from a left hamstring injury that has sidelined him since April 2.

Wuertz warmed up in the bullpen, and then pitched a simulated game off the Oakland Coliseum mound with outfielder Ryan Sweeney taking cuts.

"It went good," Wuertz said before the A's game against Detroit. "I felt good. I mean a little rusty, obviously. I haven't thrown off the mound once since that Opening Night, but overall I feel good. The most important thing was just testing the hamstring out, and it came out good. Fortunately, when I throw off the mound, it doesn't really bother me. We're making progress."

Barring a setback, Wuertz expects to go on a Minor League rehab assignment as early as Saturday.

Wuertz pitched a scoreless inning on Opening Night against Seattle, striking out two, but the next day he injured himself in the weight room. He went on the 15-day DL on April 6, retroactive to April 2.

"[I] just kind of tweaked it," Wuertz said. "[I] thought it might get better, but I guess I did a little more to it than I thought. It was sort of one of those fluke things. It's kind of tough sitting here, coming back from Toronto and sitting here watching our games, knowing that if this wouldn't have happened I'd be out there. But we had a good road trip and now we just kind of move on."

LaRoche forcing his way into A's lineup

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Andy LaRoche hit his way onto the 25-man roster with a sizzling Cactus League season, and now he's forcing his way into manager Bob Geren's lineup with his bat and glove.

LaRoche, hitting .368, was in the starting lineup at third base in place of the struggling Kevin Kouzmanoff for Thursday night's series opener against Detroit. This marks his seventh start -- three at shortstop, two at third and one each at second and first.

"He's been doing a good job," Geren said. "I'm going to get him in there. When guys are hot, you've got to keep playing them. Everything he's doing is right. So I'll find a way to keep him in there."

Kouzmanoff is hitting .171 and has made four errors. He was on the field early Thursday, getting some extra work with third-base coach Mike Gallego.

LaRoche has been impressive in the field, making just one error. At the plate, he's 7-for-19 with three doubles.

"It's definitely feeling good, but also with that there's some at-bats I feel I've given away or chased a bad pitch and given myself a bad hitter's count," LaRoche said. "I'm happy with the way things are going so far. I'd like to work on being able to drive the ball instead of being a base-hit guy, but I can't start trying to do too much, because that's what gets me in trouble. I have to stay within myself and then the doubles and home runs will start coming."

LaRoche's natural position is third base, but he's seen most of his action at shortstop, where he's displayed his powerful throwing arm.

"Honestly, I don't care where they play me, as long as I'm in that lineup," LaRoche said. "That's what really matters most to me. Whether it's at short, second, first, third, outfield, whatever, I don't really care. I feel I've gotten comfortable at the other positions. Obviously, third base is my natural position, so I feel fine there. I'm just happy to get in that lineup and happy to be able to contribute to this team."

No timetable for A's closer Bailey's return

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Injured closer Andrew Bailey pitched a bullpen session before Thursday night's game against Detroit, but said there is still no timetable for his return from the disabled list.

Bailey threw around 25 pitches, all fastballs, off the mound.

"[I] felt good," Bailey said. "[I'm] definitely staying on the right track."

Bailey opened the season on the DL with a strained right forearm. He was eligible to return on April 6. Asked if he still felt pain or discomfort, Bailey said, "It's a tough call. It's just the way it feels right now. You're trying to get better each and every time."

Bailey said he expects to stay on his "three-day progression" of playing catch, throwing long-toss and then pitching a bullpen session.

"So I assume in the next three or four days I'll throw another 'pen," Bailey said. "There's really no timetable. We're just going as we feel."

Worth noting

• The A's went 5-4 on their recent road trip, capping it with a come-from-behind 7-4 win over the White Sox in 10 innings on Wednesday. "It was probably the loudest flight home I can remember in years, in a good way," Geren said. "Guys were genuinely happy with the trip and how it finished. Guys are getting along perfectly. It's a really fun team, it really is, a great group of guys. I think that getting out on a long road trip early does let guys get out and have dinner together and spend a lot of time together at the park. A trip like that can do nothing but help."

• In a scoring change by the American League office, A's second baseman Mark Ellis was awarded a triple for a fly ball on April 9 at Minnesota that was initially scored a three-base error on Denard Span. The triple was Ellis' 22nd of his career, tying Sal Bando for eighth in Oakland history.

• The A's were shut out by Detroit for the first time since Aug. 23, 1993, a 9-0 loss at Tiger Stadium. That was a span of 152 games without being shut out, the longest in Oakland history against one team.