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02/27/07 7:23 PM ET

Notes: A's Stewart on track in left field

Righty Harden throws well; shortstop Crosby progressing

PHOENIX -- In manager Bob Geren's ideal scenario, Shannon Stewart is playing left field for the A's on Opening Day and Nick Swisher is manning first base.

"If the season started today, that's where Stewart would be the majority of the time," Geren said. "I'm not rooting against anybody, but Stewart's pretty much a .300 career hitter and he's had some injuries the last couple of years, so if he was perfectly healthy and retained that kind of performance, well ... who wouldn't want a guy like that? Swisher had a good year and he's going to keep getting better, so I like both of them in there."

The odd man out, at least for the moment, would be Dan Johnson. Johnson is out of options and his name has surfaced in trade rumors. However, Stewart has missed significant playing time in two of the past three years because of plantar fasciitis, so Johnson could still wind up seeing some significant playing time.

"Johnson can play, too. I just hope I have all these choices," Geren said . "We were talking about that and playing around with some lineups this morning, and that was the exact comment by one of the coaches, 'Sounds like you might have a good problem.' Yes, it's a good problem to have."

For his part, Stewart is happy with his progress early in Spring Training: "I feel good right now. Some days are better than others, and I feel it a little bit every now and then, but right now I feel good. I'm just trying to get ready and be in the best shape I can for the start of the season."

Medical update: Center fielder Mark Kotsay was held out of activity for the second day in a row with continued tightness in his back and received treatment. Geren didn't seem overly concerned even given Kotsay's past back issues.

"Sometimes he's stiff there, and in a day or two he's fine," Geren said.

Bobby Crosby hit soft toss in the batting cage for another day, and reported afterward that "everything was good" with his back.

"I asked him and he said he felt great and was hoping to hit batting practice [Wednesday]," Geren said. "If he plays the second half of the spring in games he should be fine. He should have enough time to get ready."

Justin Duchscherer missed workouts for the second straight day with a non-baseball condition, but did show up in the clubhouse, indicating things were a bit better.

Harden on track: Rich Harden threw one more batting practice session of about 30 pitches. He had only faced hitters one time, when everyone else had faced them twice. Harden specifically requested some younger players to throw against.

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"They take those big swings and take it a bit more seriously. It's more like throwing in a game situation," Harden said.

Afterward, he said that he felt great and ready to pitch in a game on Saturday: "I'm right on schedule."

Intrasquad action: The A's played their first intrasquad game on Tuesday at Papago Park. The game lasted 2 1/2 innings, highlighted by infielder Donnie Murphy's solo homer. Pitcher Scott Dunn turned some heads with a good showing against the projected heart of the A's order.

"He's got a good, live arm and showed good movement," Geren said.

Bullpen coach Rene Lachemann acted as the umpire and, as has become a tradition, entertained both fans and players with his verbal commentary on each player who stepped up to the plate.

"He knows how to rib players without getting too personal, so he keeps it fun," Geren said.

Lachemann also instructed potential heckling fans to "be quiet until you have to pay to get in here," drawing laughs from the crowd that showed up for a few innings of free baseball.

Quick hits: Geren set up his pitchers for Spring Training games later this week with Brad Halsey, Jason Windsor and Chad Gaudin highlighting the names for Thursday, and Joe Kennedy, Huston Street and Shane Komine for Friday. ... Geren singled out Kennedy for his great throwing session on Monday. ... The A's took part in sliding practice in morning drills resulting in some laughs, as players took turns trading some large size sliding pants that many had to hold up with one hand as they ran.

Jason Grey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.