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Crisp close to return to action

Crisp close to return to action

PHOENIX -- Outfielder Coco Crisp, sidelined for the past week with a strained left hamstring, could be back in the A's lineup as early as Thursday, he told MLB.com on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old center fielder, who signed a one-year contract worth $5.25 million in December, appeared in only three games this spring before suffering the hamstring injury.

"It's fine," Crisp said. "I haven't been going 100 percent on it, especially when trying to lunge off the bag when I'm running, but other than that, it's good to go."

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Crisp entered A's camp already nursing both of his surgically repaired shoulders, which forced him to miss all but 49 games with the Royals last season. He has been on a throwing program all spring but served as the team's designated hitter -- going 4-for-8 -- during the trio of games in which he played so as to properly take caution with his shoulders.

The outfielder had five pins put into his right shoulder and seven in his left, the former giving the right-handed thrower more cause for concern. But Crisp says the continual rehab process has gone well and, at this point, believes he's being held back mentally more so than physically.

"I think when I first got here, the distance was a little intimidating because I haven't really pushed myself that far in so long," he explained. "Now that I've been doing it awhile, it's starting to feel more comfortable.

"I think it comes from a mental standpoint. I think I can go a little further than I'm actually going right now, but every time I try to take a step further, it's not that my arm can't make a throw, it's just that it seems so far."

The always entertaining Crisp said he's coming to terms with the lengthier distances by simply talking to his shoulder when out on the field.

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"Every time I go to throw, it's like, 'Wow, OK, here we go,'" he said while glancing at his shoulder. "And then it's fine, so it's all about getting past that mental barrier."

If Crisp doesn't make it into Thursday's lineup against the visiting D-backs, he hopes to at least see playing time Friday. However, the A's are slated to play Colorado in Tucson, Ariz., that day, so it's possible his return could be delayed yet another day to spare him the two-hour road trip.

"I'm trying to approach everything so it all comes together around the same time," he said. "I'd like to DH one game and then the next game play defense."

Both Crisp and manager Bob Geren have noted that the A's new addition should be up to full speed come Opening Day, when Crisp is expected to join predicted starters Rajai Davis and Ryan Sweeney in what the Oakland skipper has deemed "one of the best defensive outfields in the league."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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