CHICAGO -- A year ago, Josh Donaldson had trouble staying on the A's roster.

Now you can't get him out of the lineup.

Donaldson finally got a long-deserved day off Monday, but there was a catch -- everybody else on the roster had a day off, too.

Come Tuesday, he will be back in the lineup at third base, just as he has been every day but one this season.

His work, including his .324 batting average, is getting noticed. His ability to deliver winning RBIs just earned him a mention in The Wall Street Journal. Donaldson is fifth in American League All-Star voting at third base, bidding to be the A's first position player selected since 2003.

Oakland Athletics’ Josh Donaldson (20) high-fives a teammate after he scored to make the score 9-6 against the San Francisco Giants in the ninth
Oakland Athletics' Josh Donaldson (20) high-fives a teammate after he scored to make the score 9-6 against the San Francisco Giants in the ninth inning at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

"You can't give him a day off; he doesn't want one," manager Bob Melvin said. "I keep going to him to ask if he needs a break, and he just says no."

And with the New York Yankees coming to town for a three-game set, there is zero chance that Donaldson will miss any time. After all, Monday was a day off.

"It doesn't matter," Donaldson said. "It doesn't matter if we're playing the Yankees or the Rangers or anybody else. We'll go out as a team trying to play a complete game. If we do that, we're going to do all right."

Donaldson got all the breaks he needed last year, when he went between Triple-A Sacramento and Oakland three times before sticking. He hit .094 in April with the A's, then .182 in May and June the second time around.

The A's brought him back Aug. 14 a changed man. Of course, he already had been changed once, in spring training, when an injury to Scott Sizemore led the A's to convert Donaldson from catcher to third base. He grew into the position while he was trying to figure out his offensive issues, and by August he had just about done that.

He hit .290 the rest of the way with eight of his nine home runs. Along the way he gave a glimpse of the lineup magnet he would become, starting 47 of the A's final 48 games.

And while he can't take credit for the A's running down the Rangers to win the American League West on the last day of the season, the team went 32-15 in Donaldson's 47 starts in August and September. He started all five games of the A.L. Division Series against Detroit, averaging .294.

So now, he is a fixture, maybe the fixture in the A's lineup. He has started more games than anyone else, has the highest batting average and leads the team in RBIs with 42. Small wonder it has become harder to pry Donaldson out of the lineup.

"I don't want days off, and I don't need days off," Donaldson said, pointing out that, at 27, he shouldn't need much rest. "Bob has come to me a few times now, asked about me taking a day off, but I've said I'd rather not."

Donaldson takes pride in his conditioning, lifts weights regularly, and he and fitness guru Mike Henriques have a workout schedule that should keep Donaldson's strength up through a 162-game season.

"I can still lift as much as I was in spring training," Donaldson said. "Our strength guy Mike has given me a good plan."

If the plan is to see Donaldson at the peak of his game, it seems to be working. His next home run will be his 10th, matching his career total entering the season. And instead of being a good complementary piece of the Oakland lineup, he has become one of the focal points. He hits cleanup against left-handed pitching, and lately he has been batting fifth against right-handers.

And the A's have been winning, taking 18 of their past 23 games, although they lost the past two over the weekend in Chicago.

"We feel good," Donaldson said. "We're not losing confidence over losing two games. We'll be fine."