SEA@OAK: Crisp speeds around the bases for a triple

SEATTLE -- The A's got back their leadoff hitter Saturday, with Coco Crisp making a return to the lineup for the middle matchup of a three-game set at Safeco Field.

Crisp was held out of the club's three-game series in Minnesota this week, after receiving a cortisone shot in his sore left wrist, but he pinch-hit in the final at-bat of Friday's loss and is good to go.

"We feel like he's ready to go, and he said yesterday, 'I'm ready,'" said manager Bob Melvin. "That's all I need to hear from him. He's pretty aware of his body and has played through some injuries. I really rely on the feedback from him."

For good reason. Crisp singled in his first at-bat and scored on Josh Donaldson's two-run homer. He scored again after walking in his second at-bat.

The outfielder has reached base safely in each of his first six starts, going 5-for-19 with seven walks in that span.

A's designate Fuld to make room for Gentry

OAK@MIN: Fuld lifts two-run homer to extend lead

SEATTLE -- In welcoming back one of the game's most versatile outfielders, the A's had to let go of another.

Craig Gentry was activated from the disabled list Saturday, forcing the A's to designate Sam Fuld for assignment, giving them 10 days to either release, trade or, in an unlikely scenario, pass him through waivers.

Fuld was 6-for-30 (.200) with four RBIs in seven games for the A's, and he provided several defensive gems in the outfield.

"He was really good for us, and I view him as a big league player," manager Bob Melvin said Saturday. "In a short period of time here, he's impacted some games for us, and he's been right in the middle of some wins for us."

That's what made the decision so tough. The A's could have opted to designate Daric Barton for assignment to make room for Gentry, but in the end, they had to ask, "How much is a fifth outfielder going to get to play?" Melvin said.

So it was never really about evaluating Fuld vs. Barton, anyway. It just didn't make sense to have two extra outfielders of the same skill set.

"We do have Brandon Moss, who can play the outfield, too," Melvin said. "But still, a tough decision for us, and I wish him the best. He's a terrific person for us, and he fit very well here. He told me he had a lot of fun here and felt great here."

Gentry, acquired from the Rangers for Michael Choice in the offseason, will be an in-game option for the A's final two games in Seattle, and he's expected to start at least two of the club's three games in Anaheim next week. It will be his first game of any sort with the A's, having missed all of Spring Training because of a lower back strain.

"He can impact the game, whether it's on defense, whether it's baserunning, pinch-hitting," Melvin said. "He knows how to play that role, and that's kind of an acquired taste. He's done a really good job at that, and that's one of the reasons we targeted him and a reason he's here."

Norris has Johnson mix up offerings in solid outing

Duquette on the A's possible closer options

SEATTLE -- A different inning resulted in different results for Jim Johnson on Friday night, and his catcher says it was the result of a different approach.

"Everyone knows he's got a good sinker," Derek Norris said Saturday. "I told him, there's never any harm in mixing it up, throwing a breaking ball in what would be your two-seam count. I said, you got to give them a different look. That's kind of what we did last night -- more breaking balls, more changeups, and I think showing hitters, well, he's not just going to go out there and throw sinkers all day."

Johnson struck out four in two perfect innings, just a day after being removed from the closer's role. He won't be back in there just yet, despite Friday's encouraging performance, but Norris believes it could happen soon.

"Seeing him go two innings and not just one, I like that, because it gives him a chance to throw more pitches and hopefully find out, 'Oh, there it is. There's the feeling I've been looking for,'" he said. "He looked good, and that's the guy everyone expected when he came over here.

"Until they start respecting other pitches, once they start doing that, then he can go back to his sinker and they're not going to be on it as much. He agreed, and 98 percent of the time we were on the same page last night. He wanted to throw some more fastballs, and I said, 'Stay with me,' and he did, and it was nice to see him have a good outing."

Johnson still threw plenty of sinkers, but he also flashed seven curveballs and five changeups in the 30-pitch outing, which manager Bob Melvin deemed his best of the early season.

The right-hander had allowed at least two runs in three of his other five appearances and seven total in just 3 1/3 innings.

"He wants to be back in the ninth," Norris said. "He's looking to prove to get back to that spot, and I think whether he's coming in in the fourth, the fifth, the seventh, he's looking to show everyone, I'm ready for that spot again. And I think that's what he's starting to accomplish, and hopefully he can carry it out."