Phoenix Oakland Athletics shortstop Bobby Crosby faced live pitching Sunday for the first time this spring and showed no lingering effects from the back injury that sidelined him for the final two months last season.
"It's been a long time to wait but it was good," said Crosby, the 2004 AL Rookie of the Year. "I was antsy coming into spring but I didn't want to rush it. When you rush it, you hurt it."
Crosby missed 63 games in 2006 with a stress fracture in his back and other injuries. Team doctors originally diagnosed the back injury as a strain, but Crosby later met with a private doctor who discovered the fracture.
Before Sunday, Crosby hadn't faced live pitching since Aug. 21. He was placed on the disabled list four days later and did not return, finishing the season with career lows in batting average (.229), hits (82) and home runs (nine). He also struck out 76 times in 358 at-bats.
Crosby was batting .251 on July 5, but went 11-for-78 (.141) the rest of the way. He hit 22 home runs as a rookie, and has 18 in 180 games since.
The A's are taking a cautious approach with the 27-year-old Crosby, who has missed 132 games over the past two seasons with four trips to the disabled list. He began spring training hitting off a tee and progressed to soft tosses last week.
On Sunday, Crosby took four rounds of batting practice against Tony DeFrancesco, manager of the A's Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento.
Crosby said he swung at 70-75 percent strength, but that was due more to a change in his swing than concerns about his back.
"I think I'll be ready by opening day," Crosby said. "I'm pretty confident."