MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Kennedy has returned to the A's bullpen, and auditions look open to fill his starting rotation spot.

Kennedy has struggled to regain the form he had in the early going this season. After posting a 2.53 ERA in his first eight appearances (seven starts), the left-hander had gone 1-5 with a 6.14 ERA over his past 10 appearances (nine starts) coming into Thursday's 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

He turned in a decent outing in relief of Chad Gaudin on Thursday, allowing one run and two hits in 2-1/3 innings.

"We'd just be better as a team with him in the bullpen," manager Bob Geren said before the game. "He had a great season for us in the bullpen last year."

Kennedy pitched exclusively in relief last season and excelled when healthy, allowing just two of 21 runners to score with a 2.31 ERA.

"I've done it before," Kennedy said of relieving. "It's really not a (different) approach you take when you pitch out of the bullpen."

Geren pointed to the bullpen, including Kennedy, as a positive Thursday. Relievers combined to allow just one run over four innings.

One of those relievers, Andrew Brown, made his A's debut after being called up from Triple-A Sacramento to take Rich Harden's spot on the roster. Brown, a hard-throwing right-hander acquired from San Diego for Milton Bradley, had a strikeout in two-thirds of an inning.


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As for Kennedy, the A's prefer him in the bullpen right now even though Harden was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a right shoulder injury that has lingered. Left-hander Lenny DiNardo will remain in the rotation and start today's game against the Twins. Joe Blanton takes the ball Saturday and Dan Haren, coming off his two-inning All-Star Game start, goes Sunday.

But the A's need a fifth starter for Monday's home game against the Texas Rangers and will have to call up someone from the minor leagues. Left-hander Dan Meyer remains one option, depending on how the A's shuffle their Triple-A rotation this weekend.

Harden is going home to British Columbia to rest his shoulder, which has limited him to just seven appearances all season. There's no immediate target date for his return, but it's likely to be several weeks before he returns to the mound for the A's.

Comeback road

The news is more encouraging concerning closer Huston Street as he continues working his right elbow into shape at the team's minor-league complex in Phoenix.

Street threw fastballs and sliders during a side session Wednesday and is scheduled to throw 25-30 pitches against hitters today. He could throw in a simulated game or minor-league game as early as Monday.

The status of Mike Piazza should be cleared up in the next day or two, according to Geren. The organization and Piazza are having dialogue on whether Piazza should continue rehabbing to prepare for catching or simply come off the DL and DH. If Piazza sticks strictly with hitting, he could head on a minor-league rehab assignment by the weekend.

Short hops

Outfielder Travis Buck (right thumb) went 1-for-4 with an RBI for Sacramento on Thursday. He could rejoin the A's in a matter of days. ... The A's now have utilized the DL 17 times this season, and they've used a major-league-high 46 players. ... The A's placed infielder Donnie Murphy on the bereavement list and recalled infielder J.J. Furmaniak from the River Cats. ... Reliever Justin Duchscherer underwent successful surgery on his right hip Wednesday and was placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room for Brown on the 40-man roster.

-- Joe Stiglich