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02/27/09 6:40 PM EST

A's downplaying Duchscherer's elbow

All-Star starter calls latest injury 'a nuisance' and 'frustrating'

PHOENIX -- The A's on Friday continued to downplay ace right-hander Justin Duchscherer's elbow issues, but they don't have any set plans for the two-time All-Star to make his Cactus League debut.

"No," manager Bob Geren said before his club took on the visiting Brewers at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. "Not at this time."

Geren and pitching coach Curt Young insist Duchscherer's elbow pain is something of an annual spring thing that dates back to 2006, and bullpen coach Ron Romanick said Duchscherer got through a 20-pitch bullpen session on Thursday without incident.

"He's still day-to-day, but he's back to throwing sides. He's doing fine," Romanick said.

Duchscherer, 31, made the American League All-Star team last summer, but he saw his second straight season cut short by a right hip injury that required surgery. He spent six weeks on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right elbow in 2006, and in '07, elbow tenderness prevented him from making his Cactus League debut until late March.

On Friday, Duchscherer said he considered it a positive sign that he was able to throw some breaking balls during his bullpen session, but he didn't seem as unconcerned as Geren, Young and Romanick.

"It's a nuisance," Duchscherer said. "My hip is perfect, but this ... it's just really frustrating."

Also on the injury front, Geren said first baseman Daric Barton would make his Cactus League debut Sunday or Tuesday (the A's are off Monday), but Barton pinch-hit in the eighth inning of Friday's game, grounding out to second base.

Geren also said second baseman Mark Ellis isn't yet hitting in games not because he's not ready to swing, but because the team is concerned about what might happen to him on the bases.

Barton underwent offseason hip surgery, while Ellis is recovering from shoulder surgery.

"It's a nuisance. My hip is perfect, but this ... it's just really frustrating."
-- Justin Duchscherer, on his elbow issues

Although Ellis likely won't be cleared to play defense in a game until late March, he's already been cleared to serve as a designated hitter.

"Hitting, he's fine, but you never know on the bases," Geren said. "He might have to dive back into a base and jam [the shoulder] or something. ... Everything is on schedule, though."

Ellis likely will see much of his early work in Minor League games, which provide more of a controlled environment for rehabbing players.

In Friday's game, lefty starter Dana Eveland was in complete control, ripping through two perfect innings on 13 pitches in his first spring outing.

"Not much to talk about," Eveland said. "That's kind of the idea in Spring Training -- get in and out as quick as possible. Save your bullets. ... They were swinging early. I don't mind that at all."

Pitchers who get through their spring outings with such a low pitch count typically head for the bullpen to get in some extra work, but Eveland opted against it.

"It's a long spring," he said with a smile before repeating, "save your bullets."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.