Inside Pitch: The Development of Crosby

Crosby's injuries were learning experiences.

College coaches always told Bobby Crosby to use the whole field. So did minor league coaches. But he never NEEDED to do it, so, he figured, why bother?

A rookie year in the majors and 141 strikeouts humbled him enough to change, and that painful quad injury just after he returned from his back injury -- as weird as it might sound -- helped him to change.

"I was so worried about the pain, it freed my mind about the results of hitting -- and then all of a sudden I'm getting doubles," Bobby Crosby said. "I'm standing at second base thinking, 'I'm pumped I got the double, but my leg is killing me.'

"I'm like, jeez, I don't know if I want the pain to go away."

The pain in the quad is gone now, but Crosby is hitting so much that manager Ken Macha decided to begin the inevitable and put Crosby in the middle of the A's lineup. Hitting third or fourth, Crosby is finding more RBI chances in a series than he'd previously get in a week.

"The things he's worked on in spring training, cutting down on his strikeouts and going the other way, have definitely elevated his game," center fielder Mark Kotsay said.

"He fits in the lineup really well in front of (Eric) Chavez. With a guy like Chavy behind him, he will see better pitches. Not taking anything away from what he's done, but it helps to have Chavez hitting behind him."

Crosby was proud of winning last year's rookie award, but hardly content.

"Last year, I won the Rookie of the Year and that was awesome, but c'mon, I still hit .239," Crosby said.

"I could continue to do that my whole career and hit 20 home runs every year. But I would hit .230 or .240. That's not something I want to do. I want to hit .300 at some point. I can still hit 20 (home runs) and hopefully 30 when I get older and stronger. If I go this way, I'll be a better overall hitter."

The Duke Of Detroit

RHP Justin Duchscherer still considers himself a starting pitcher. He wouldn't mind returning to the rotation one day. But in a season and a half, he's proved himself far too valuable in the A's bullpen.

The strange odyssey in Duchscherer's life continued Sunday. He went from long man, often a kind way of saying mopup man, and extra-inning savior to valuable middle-inning guy. This year, he's gone from middle reliever to setup guy to emergency closer -- and done them all successfully.

So successful, in fact, the Duke was named to the American League All-Star team.

"My jaw just about hit the floor," Duchscherer said.

"I had put absolutely no thought whatsoever into something like this happening. We have so many guys on this team who are deserving. It's definitely a shock."

Manager Ken Macha lobbied for third baseman Eric Chavez and center fielder Mark Kotsay to make the team. Kotsay didn't mind the selection by Boston manager Terry Francona, though.

"He's having a great year," Kotsay said. "He's been the most consistent guy on the ball club, and consistency is what makes you an All-Star. I think he's very deserving."

Added Macha: "He's adapted to and handled every role we've put him in since he joined the organization, and over time he's become the most versatile member of the bullpen. I can't say enough about what he's meant to this team. I'm very happy for him."

Shortly

--2B Marco Scutaro's errorless streak ended Tuesday night at 60 games, the third-longest in A's history, and at a costly time. Gabe Gross upended Scutaro as he tried turning a game-ending double play and Scutaro's throw sailed over 1B Scott Hatteberg's head, scoring the game-tying run in the ninth. Scutaro had numerous gashes on his leg from Gross' spikes.

--SS Bobby Crosby hit a two-run, inside-the-park homer in Tuesday's game, becoming the first A's player to accomplish the feat since Terrence Long on May 9, 2003 against the Yankees.

--RF Nick Swisher connected on his seventh home run in his last 16 games Tuesday, just as the fans in the right field area were mocking him by chanting his name.

--3B Eric Chavez went 2-for-3 Tuesday against Toronto RHP Josh Towers and is now 11-for-21 against him in his career. Chavez finished third in voting for AL player of the month for June. Chavez batted .379 in June, his personal best for any month. The previous best was .370 in September 2001.

--RHPs Joe Blanton and Dan Haren each won five games in June, marking the first time the A's had a pair of five-game winners in the same month since August 2002, when Tim Hudson and Cory Lidle did it.

--LHP Barry Zito went 3-2 in six June starts, four were considered quality starts (six innings or more, three runs allowed or fewer), and his ERA in June was a tidy 3.05.

--RHP Rich Harden has allowed just one earned run in his three starts since returning from the disabled list. His ERA is just 0.46 in that time.

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