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08/08/10 8:52 PM ET

A's on base-stealing tear in second half

Oakland leads Majors with 29 swipes since All-Star break

OAKLAND -- For years, it was rare for the A's to steal bases with regular frequency. Since the All-Star break, though, Oakland's 29 stolen bases are the most in the Majors.

While Rajai Davis and Coco Crisp are team's most proficient base stealers, Cliff Pennington is holding his own. The A's shortstop has stolen 17 bases, which is the second-most on the team, while getting caught twice.

"He's a guy that is a very intelligent baserunner," A's manager Bob Geren said. "It impresses me to the point where he'll see something in timing or some kind of rock back in the pitcher where he can get even a better jump."

Oakland's 94 stolen bases are the fourth-highest total in the American League this year, while its 79.7 percent success rate is second only to Tampa Bay (79.8 percent). It's the second time in 12 years that the A's have stolen at least 90 bases, after stealing 133 last year. Davis' 34 steals are third-best in the American League, while Crisp has 14 in 37 games.

The A's even pulled a double steal with a four-run lead in the eighth inning during Saturday's 6-2 win over the Rangers. Geren said the unwritten rules of baseball have changed over the years, as such actions used to be deemed unethical.

"[The unwritten rule] definitely exists, it's just that line has gone a little further," Geren said. "Since my 30-plus years in the game, there's a lot more bigger, stronger guys who can hit homers and teams score runs in bunches quickly a lot more than they used to 20, 30 years ago."

Injured Bailey plays catch for second time

OAKLAND -- A's closer Andrew Bailey played catch on Sunday for the first time since Wednesday, but still doesn't know when he will return to the mound for Oakland.

"It went better than the last time we tried it," Bailey said. "It's obviously a plus; good enough to continue on the path to get back into the games. As far as a timetable for a game, that's really not up to me."

Bailey made 20 tosses on Sunday, 10 from 45 feet and 10 from 65 feet. Bailey said he felt good on Sunday, unlike Wednesday when he felt a bit of discomfort in the area of his rib muscle strain.

"I felt it on Wednesday," Bailey said. "It wasn't as bad as it was before but it was still, in my mind, right on the cusp of feeling good so we didn't want to push it too much. That's why we decided to take an extra couple of days."

Bailey hasn't thrown in a game since July 20, but said he hopes to be able to return after throwing a couple bullpen sessions and a simulated game. Bailey said he will throw from a longer distance on Monday.

"It's not like I need to build up a pitch count to 50 or 60," Bailey said. "I think it will be quicker than a starter's [rehab]."

Barton leaves game with left shoulder injury

OAKLAND -- Daric Barton left in the fifth inning of Sunday's 3-2 win over the Rangers with left shoulder spasms after advancing to first base on an error by Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus.

Manager Bob Geren elected to go with Landon Powell as the pinch-runner and said Adam Rosales, a much faster option, was unavailable because of an injured ankle. Powell remained in the game at first base, where he started four contests in 2009. It marked the first time that Powell had played first base all year.

Barton, who leads the A's with 108 games played this year, said he was fine after the game.

Worth noting

A's outfielder Matt Watson left the clubhouse before Sunday's game after experiencing severe pains in his side and back. Manager Bob Geren said Watson went to the hospital, while the team later announced the injury was not baseball related. ... Conor Jackson is scheduled to play three innings in the Arizona Rookie League on Sunday.

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