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08/29/08 11:01 PM ET

Duchscherer hopes to return soon

Righty plays long toss Friday, says hip feels comfortable

OAKLAND -- A's right-hander Justin Duchscherer, in the midst of another All-Star season, didn't want to admit how much his hip was hurting.

He finally had to take a break about a week and a half ago, taking a cortisone shot for his strained hip last weekend.

"It helped a ton," Duchscherer said Friday before the A's game against the Twins. "It's enabled me to throw sooner."

Duchscherer played long toss, up to 100 feet, on Thursday and repeated the process again on Friday. He had hoped to be ready to pitch when he's eligible to come off the disabled list on Sept. 4.

"It's not a big deal with my arm," he said. "I haven't thrown for nine days, and I feel fine. If my hip feels good, I'd like to get out there as soon as possible."

Sean Gallagher (shoulder fatigue) is closer to returning to the rotation than Duchscherer, although the right-hander isn't eligible to play again until Sept. 5.

"Sean has been throwing off the mound in the bullpen," A's manager Bob Geren said, "Duch just starting throwing. I'd like to see both of them back before the end of the season to help the evaluation process."

First baseman Mike Sweeney (left knee) has four hits in his first 19 at bats for Triple-A Sacramento in a rehab assignment. The A's would like him to play a full game at first base before bringing him back.

Second baseman Mark Ellis (shoulder) has begun taking ground balls but has yet to swing a bat. Geren said he might be available as early as Sunday, though Tuesday in Kansas City is more realistic.

Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.