OAKLAND — No, your eyes were not deceiving you Thursday night. And no, there's nothing wrong with Bobby Crosby.

But yes, that was Cliff Pennington starting at shortstop for the second straight game. It's a sight that will become even more familiar over the season's final two weeks. Crosby said he was informed by manager Bob Geren in Detroit that his playing time will be reduced significantly from now until the end of the season.

"They told me they want to give Pennington a chance to play," Crosby said. "I want to play every day, so obviously it's not good news. But it's out of my hands."

The move comes with the A's long removed from the playoff race, but it still ranks as a puzzler if only because Crosby has a year remaining on his contract, and this season he's remained relatively healthy for the first time since his rookie campaign of 2004. Crosby had played 130 games entering Thursday, trailing only Jack Hannahan (135) and Jack Cust (132) for the team lead.

But he's hitting just .245 and had only 57 RBI to go with his seven home runs, figures that don't suggest Crosby will be the kind of impact hitter he once was projected to be. Asked if the A's decision might be a clue into where the team sees him in its future, Crosby said he was trying not to read much into it.


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"There was absolutely nothing said about that," he said. "Again, that's one of those things that's out of my hands. All I can do is keep coming to the park, keep working hard every day and stay ready."

Short hops

Geren said he's still hopeful Justin Duchscherer (right hip inflammation) will return to the starting rotation before the season ends. Geren said Duchscherer sent him a text message early in the day that said, "I feel great." But Geren said, "He's got to prove he's ready to go out there." Duchscherer, who was at the ballpark Thursday, hasn't pitched since departing after 22/3 innings at Minnesota on Aug. 18. He was the American League leader in ERA (2.54) at the time but no longer has pitched enough innings to qualify for the title. ... The A's said former announcer Monte Moore will be the master of ceremonies when they hold a 40th anniversary commemoration before their Sept. 21 home finale against Seattle. Festivities start at 12:40 p.m. "... Radio announcer Ken Korach will present a check of $24,000 to the Oakland Athletic League high school baseball programs before tonight's game, a gift from his "A's Winning for the Community" Program. "I'm absolutely thrilled," he said.

— Rick Hurd