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07/25/08 10:54 PM ET

Conrad makes first home start for A's

Infielder debuts at McAfee Coliseum upon return to Oakland

OAKLAND -- Upon entering the A's clubhouse on Friday, Eric Chavez smiled before asking, "Did you see where I am in the lineup today?"

It's safe to say a rather significant shoulder injury has not affected the A's third baseman's humor. It has, however, kept him out of the lineup since July 2 and given a handful of youngsters some playing time at the hot corner -- the newest addition being Brooks Conrad.

Conrad, a 28-year-old infielder selected from Triple-A Sacramento on Monday, was slated to start his fourth consecutive game on Friday against the visiting Rangers -- his first in the confines of McAfee Coliseum.

"Starting on the road was exciting," Conrad said of the A's three-game series against Tampa Bay. "But being here is kind of like making another Major League debut -- it's a whole new deal."

After filling in for an injured Mark Ellis at second base the past two games, Conrad was set to start at third on Friday. He hopes wearing the A's home uniform for the first time isn't the only first of the night, though.

"I'm still waiting on that first hit," said Conrad, who is 0-for-10 with five strikeouts. "I would have liked to get it in Tampa, but hopefully I'll get that pressure out of the way tonight."

Conrad's first hit will mark an event that was eight years in the making after shuffling through the Minors during that time span. Conrad opened the season with Sacramento, where he was batting .242 with a .321 on-base percentage, 21 doubles, 21 homers and 67 RBIs in 93 games for the River Cats.

"It's pretty special getting the opportunity to experience this," Conrad said. "It's been great being here with a lot of guys I played with in Triple-A and also getting to meet a lot of the other guys."

Former River Cats Wes Bankston, Carlos Gonzalez and a crop of other A's players won't be the only familiar faces surrounding Conrad on Friday. The infielder's wife, Jessie, and infant son, Jaxon -- among several other family members -- will be watching from the stands.

"It's nice having them with me," Conrad said. "It will definitely be good to start playing in front of a home crowd."

Jane Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.