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Justin Duchscherer comments on returning to A’s

Justin Duchscherer just addressed the Bay Area media, giving his thoughts on how happy he is to return to the A’s. He was also pretty frank about his much-publicized bout with clinical depression, which isn’t surprising because he’s always been one to speak his mind with us reporter folks.

A few tidbits:

–Duchscherer said he didn’t accept the A’s offer of arbitration because he wanted to explore opportunities with East Coast teams, in an effort to be closer to his son, Evan, who lives in Philadelphia. He talked with several teams, but in the end, Oakland wound up being his best option. He loves Kurt Suzuki as his catcher and Curt Young as his pitching coach. And A’s skipper Bob Geren was his first professional manager back in 1996 in Boston’s farm system.

–His divorce in 2008, and being separated for long periods from his son, took a huge toll on him. And the elbow surgery that largely wiped out his 2009 season compounded things. “Not being able to handle the stress and pressure and all of it at one time, I needed some help,” he said. “I sorted out a lot of things that needed to be dealt with and I’m ready to go. … Where I’m at now and where I was six months ago is (real different).”

–Duchscherer looks forward to joining a rotation that showed much promise while he was sidelined last season. He thinks there’s much he has to offer to the young staff, especially that “you can get guys out with subpar stuff. I don’t have 95 mph stuff. I look forward to being a bit of a mentor. When I was a younger kid — 24, 25 — I didn’t know anybody who was going through stuff I was going through.”

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Justin Duchscherer signs one-year contract with A’s

Justin Duchscherer is officially back in the fold with the A’s. The team just announced the right-hander has agreed to a one-year contract, known to include a base salary of about $2 million with incentives that could push his earnings to $5.5 million. Duchscherer passed his physical Tuesday, the final step to making the deal final. We’ll get him on a conference call a bit later today.

To make room for him on the 40-man roster, left-handed reliever Jay Marshall was designated for assignment.

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Adrian Beltre-to-A’s speculation heats up

Think back to the winter meetings, when there wasn’t a trickle of concrete news to report from the A’s camp. I kept getting the same questions from writers and scouts: “What’s going on with the A’s? Are they doing anything?” The meetings finished a little more than two weeks ago, and obviously, that was the calm before the storm. The A’s have been swift to act since then – trading third baseman Brett Wallace for outfielder Michael Taylor, signing outfielder Coco Crisp and bringing back free agent pitcher Justin Duchscherer. Now, speculation is heating up that Oakland is perhaps the front-runner to sign free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, according to ESPN. Here’s a few thoughts on that situation. Feel free to chime in with your own:

Beltre is a logical fit for the A’s considering their need at third base (you’ve got to operate as if Eric Chavez won’t be available until he proves he can stay in the lineup). I can tell you Beltre has been in the A’s thoughts since the offseason began, but I don’t see them shelling out $10 million per season for him. The above ESPN piece lists the A’s as his only serious suitor right now, but it mentions a good point: If Beltre drops his asking price, other teams are sure to join the pursuit (including the Giants). I expect the A’s and other teams to play the waiting game with Beltre. That paid off for teams last winter, when the price tag dropped on free agents as the season drew closer.

–The A’s obviously aren’t viewing Jake Fox – acquired from the Cubs shortly before the winter meetings – as a full-time third baseman. If they were, Beltre wouldn’t even be a consideration. The A’s like Fox for his hitting ability – they’ll find a spot that suits him in the field. If Beltre is signed, I see Fox possibly playing a lot of first base (though the A’s already have depth there) or logging lots of at-bats at DH.

–What happens if Beltre becomes an Athletic, and – work with me on this one – Chavez puts together a healthy season? Surely the A’s would want to squeeze all they can out of Chavez, who makes $12 million in the final year of a six-year contract. It would make sense for Beltre (a Gold Glover like Chavy) to play third and Chavez to DH simply to ease the burden on Chavez’s back. But then where does Fox fit in? The options would be first base or the outfield, and the A’s are fairly crowded at both spots. GM Billy Beane likes to point out that having too many healthy players hasn’t been a problem for the A’s recently, so maybe injuries will sort out who plays where.

Would you like to see Beltre signed? How would you handle the playing rotation?

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Coco Crisp comments on A’s, his signing

Coco Crisp just got off the phone w/Bay Area media. Here’s a few highlights:

–He’s delighted to have signed with the A’s, largely because he’s got lots of family near Oakland. He’s also a diehard Raider fan going back to their days in Los Angeles. That made for spirited conversation between Crisp and A’s GM Billy Beane leading up to his signing. Beane is a big San Diego Chargers fan.

–Crisp said all the right things about just wanting to fit in and help the team. But he did say he hopes to play center field and bat near the top of the lineup. He looks forward to the possibility of being in the same lineup with speedy Rajai Davis, who could shift from center to left. “When you have speed guys (running) at first, it changes the whole dynamic of the game.”

–He’s recovering from surgery on both shoulders last June, but said he’s aiming to be ready for the start of spring training. He typically doesn’t start throwing and hitting until January anyway, so he’s not necessarily behind yet.

I had never talked to Crisp before, but he comes across as an overall good guy. Media-friendly, too, on first impression. Come April, we’ll see what kind of impression he makes on the field …

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Coco Crisp signing likely to come Wednesday

There’s been no official announcement on the A’s signing of Coco Crisp, but I’m told that one is likely to come sometime tomorrow. …

This is very short notice, but a segment on Oakland closer Andrew Bailey will run tonight on the MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show at 7 p.m. (that’s just 30 minutes from now!!!) Check it out …

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Coco Crisp’s signing with A’s likely to happen

Just providing whatever updates I can. It’s tough to get in touch w/people on a Sunday afternoon. But a team source tells me the A’s are indeed close to a one-year contract with free agent outfielder Coco Crisp. No word on when something might be announced. And though it’s been reported that the deal is for $4.5-5 million, I can’t pinpoint that for sure. There’s a good chance the A’s will hold a club option for 2011. It’s important to note that Crisp would still have to pass a physical, and considering he’s recovering from surgery on both shoulders, that’s no guarantee. But Crisp’s agent told me last week that Crisp expects to be ready for the start of spring training.

It doesn’t make sense that the A’s would sit Rajai Davis after the front office has raved about him. So I’d expect Crisp to play in center, and perhaps Davis to slide over to left, w/Ryan Sweeney holding down right field. With so many outfielders in the picture now, a trade seems very likely. I’d think Scott Hairston would be most attractive to other teams in considering the A’s outfield trade candidates (Travis Buck, Aaron Cunningham and Eric Patterson would be some others). Hairston has a longer track record for teams to consider …

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Coco Crisp, Oakland A’s reportedly close to contract

Reports have surfaced that the A’s are nearing a one-year contract with free agent outfielder Coco Crisp. Where would he fit, you ask?? What does this mean for Rajai Davis and/or Scott Hairston? Good questions. But this move wouldn’t surprise me much, because the A’s have been wanting to add outfield depth all winter. And there’s no guarantee that recently acquired Michael Taylor will be ready by April. Stay tuned …

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Oakland A’s poised to trade Brett Wallace to Toronto Blue Jays for Michael Taylor

You may have heard ESPN’s report about the Brett Wallace-for-Michael Taylor trade between the A’s and Toronto Blue Jays. A source has confirmed for me that this deal is definitely going to happen as long as the major pieces of the Toronto-Philadelphia-Seattle trade involving Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee go through. Taylor is a Phillies prospect who first needs to be sent to Toronto to complete the Halladay deal. Then he can be flipped to Oakland. No word when things might be finalized. Also of note, I asked A’s GM Billy Beane about any trade involving Wallace. His response: “We’re not in position to comment right now.”

That’s hardly a denial. I know the A’s love Taylor as a prospect. He’s 6-foot-6 and can run. So this deal makes sense in my mind. That’s all for now …