OAKLAND -- Coco Crisp returned to the Athletics' lineup Sunday after missing six games with a strained right calf. A's manager Bob Melvin was ecstatic about it.

"We're all obviously excited to have him back," Melvin said.

The A's could have used his production of late. Crisp is hitting .364 (24-for-66) over his last 17 games and has been a catalyst, along with Jemile Weeks, at the top of the lineup. He leads the American League with a career-high 37 steals.

Crisp is also a career .545 hitter against Matt Harrison, who started for the Rangers on Sunday.

With Crisp on the shelf, Melvin was working with a thin bench. That was one of the reasons the club called up Brandon Allen, who has the ability to play in the outfield as well as first base.

Allen, whom the A's acquired in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks last month, will work with A's coach Tye Waller on outfield play for the next few days.

The addition of Allen prompted the question of playing time to evaluate younger players. Melvin said it was too early to consider.

"We have a four-man bench, so there aren't that many decisions to make," Melvin said. "This isn't September, so we're not at that point. Right now, we're going to put out the best lineup."

Pennington OK following Bell's palsy flare-up

OAKLAND -- A's shortstop Cliff Pennington was walking around the clubhouse with his right hand covered in a bandage that looked like a cast on Sunday, raising concerns of his availability.

Not to worry, said Pennington, it was just ice -- a precautionary measure. He was in the lineup on Sunday.

Pennington was out of Saturday's lineup because of his recent bout with Bell's palsy, a disorder of the nerves that control movement of the muscles in the face.

"It's a lot better," Pennington said of the Bell's palsy, which usually disappears on its own after a few weeks or so. "I mean, it's still there. It's no big deal."

Pennington missed a handful of games as a result of the disorder, and the A's feel a need for caution.

Pennington, who hit .167 on the recently concluded road trip, is batting .342 since the All-Star break.

CoJack scratched with stiff neck

OAKLAND -- A's first baseman Conor Jackson was scratched from the starting lineup about an hour before the game because of neck tightness.

Jackson had earned the everyday job there shortly after Bob Melvin took over as manager when Bob Geren was let go.

"He has really turned the corner," Melvin said of Jackson.

Jackson has been one of Oakland's most versatile players this season. He's started 77 games at four different positions, including his first appearances in right field and at third base.

Jackson is hitting .313 with a pair of home runs in the 25 games since the All-Star break.

Brandon Allen, whom the A's recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday, replaced Jackson in the lineup.