"It's something we've kicked around a little for the past couple of years, actually," Beane said. "Nothing's been decided, but it's a possibility. ... If you look at the end of our season, the starting rotation was more of a concern than the bullpen, and starting is something Justin has done with some success in the Minor Leagues."
It would be a welcome move for Duchscherer, a right-hander whose 2006 season ended with hip surgery after 17 appearances.
"I enjoy starting," Duchscherer said during the season. "I'd definitely like to do it again, but I'm not sure I'll get the chance [with the A's]."
Acquired in a March 2002 trade with the Rangers, Duchscherer spent much of that season on the disabled list with a strained lower back, but in 2003 he was named the Pacific Coast League's Pitcher of the Year after going 14-2 with a 3.25 ERA as a starter for Triple-A Sacramento.
That performance earned him a September callup, and he threw seven shutout innings to beat the Angels in his Oakland debut, but he's worked exclusively in relief for the A's over the past four seasons.
In 2004 he ranked second in the American League with 96 1/3 innings in 53 appearances, going 7-6 with a 3.27 ERA, and in 2005 he was Oakland's lone All-Star after going 4-1 with four saves and a 1.49 ERA in the first half of the season. He finished the season at 7-4 with a 2.21 ERA in a career-high 65 outings.
Duchscherer missed 42 games while on the DL with elbow tendinitis in 2006, but he still appeared in 53 games and went 2-1 with a 2.91 ERA, picking up a career-high nine saves while filling in for injured closer Huston Street.
"He's obviously a very valuable member of the pitching staff," A's manager Bob Geren said after Duchscherer was shut down for the 2007 season in mid-May. "He can do a lot of things, fill a lot of different roles."
If he's asked to fill a spot in Oakland's rotation, it might just help him avoid the injury bug that's bitten him the past two seasons.
"You have more of a routine when you're a starter, so you have a little more control in how you prepare for each time you pitch," Duchscherer said. "I enjoy the pressure of coming in from the bullpen and having to get big outs, but every out is big, and I do like the idea of getting 20, 25 outs instead of two or three or four."
Duchscherer, who is eligible for arbitration this winter, turns 30 on Nov. 19. Barring a trade or another role change, the only Oakland starters who appear to have jobs nailed down for 2008 are righties Dan Haren, Joe Blanton and Chad Gaudin.
Barton, Cahill honored: First baseman Daric Barton and righty Trevor Cahill have been named Oakland's Organizational Player and Pitcher of the Year.
Barton, 22, batted .293 with nine home runs and 70 RBIs in 136 regular-season games at Sacramento this season, leading the River Cats in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, RBIs and walks.
He went 11-for-20 (.550) with four home runs, 10 RBIs, four walks and five runs scored in five games against Salt Lake in the first round of the PCL playoffs before being called up to Oakland on Sept. 10 and batting .347 with four home runs and eight RBIs in 18 games. Of his 25 hits with the A's, 13 went for extra bases (nine doubles, four home runs). Barton reached base safely via a hit or a walk in all 18 games -- the longest such streak to start a career in Oakland history.
A second-round selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Cahill, 19, went 11-4 with a 2.73 ERA in 20 appearances, including 19 starts, for Class A Kane County. He struck out 117 batters in 105 1/3 innings and won his last seven decisions of the season, allowing six earned runs over 55 2/3 innings for a 0.97 ERA.
Dribblers: Among the key Athletics eligible for arbitration this winter are Street, Blanton, Gaudin, righty reliever Kiko Calero and utility man Marco Scutaro. ... Third baseman Jeff Baisley, who spent the 2007 season with Double-A Midland and batted .257 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs, hit a three-run homer Wednesday to lift the Phoenix Desert Dogs to a 6-3 victory over the visiting Peoria Javelinas at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in Arizona Fall League play. ... Shortstop Cliff Pennington is off to a slow start in the AFL, going 2-for-17 in his first six games. ... Catcher Anthony Recker was among the prospects Oakland hoped to send to the AFL, but he suffered a broken hamate bone in his hand before the season started. ... Outfield prospect Jermaine Mitchell, shortstop Justin Sellers and righty Jared Lansford are playing for the Waikiki BeachBoys of the Hawaiian Winter League. Lansford, the son of former A's third baseman Carney Lansford, is 0-1 with a 4.97 ERA in four starts.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less