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Now with A's, Fowler makes long-awaited return

Outfielder pinch-hits, expected to start Friday vs. Yankees; Cahill to DL
MLB.com @JaneMLB

OAKLAND -- Back in the big leagues, Dustin Fowler has one goal: "Hopefully I can stay away from walls this go-around."

First thing's first, though: Fowler finally got the at-bat he was robbed of during his Major League debut.

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OAKLAND -- Back in the big leagues, Dustin Fowler has one goal: "Hopefully I can stay away from walls this go-around."

First thing's first, though: Fowler finally got the at-bat he was robbed of during his Major League debut.

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The A's promoted the highly touted outfield prospect ahead of Wednesday's series finale against the Astros, and they plan to give him his first starting assignment opposite the team that drafted him. Ahead of time, they awarded him a pinch-hit at-bat in the seventh inning of Wednesday's 4-1 loss and Fowler softly lined out on the second pitch. 

"It was kind of a nice way to do it," Fowler said. "Just get out there and get it out of the way real quick. Not the way you want it to go, but it's nice to get it out of the way after the road I went through."

Traded by the Yankees to the A's in the Sonny Gray blockbuster deal last summer a month after he sustained a horrific right knee injury running into an unpadded metal electrical box at U.S. Cellular Field in his first Major League game, Fowler will finally make his anticipated debut at Yankee Stadium on Friday -- wearing green and gold.

The baseball gods could not have scripted this any better, with Gray scheduled to make the start for New York. The A's have yet to announce their starter, after placing Trevor Cahill on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday with a right elbow impingement, but there's a good chance they will call on Kendall Graveman.

"It's just the perfect story," Fowler said. "The guy I got traded for, getting to face him. It'll be nice to be in New York and play in front of that crowd. It'll be exciting. I'm ready to get there."

Fowler, who was batting .300 with three home runs and eight stolen bases at Triple-A Nashville, will be in center field for the A's.

"Obviously you want to make the team out of camp, but you completely understand what they were thinking," Fowler said. "It was nice to get some at-bats and get comfortable before I get up here. I think it was helpful for me. Here in the last two weeks I've been swinging it pretty well, so hopefully I can keep it going up here."

The speedy Fowler won't play every day; A's manager Bob Melvin wants to keep Mark Canha in the mix and expects to play him mostly against lefties, while Fowler handles the right-handers.

The 23-year-old is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the organization's No. 5 prospect.

"You talk about your center fielder of the future, and this is the guy we've targeted for that," Melvin said. "Against righties, he'll get plenty of starts. There's no reason to bring him here and not play him.

"This is a real athletic player that was a big part of a huge trade for us. You trade a Sonny Gray and bring back players like that, it's exciting. I know he'll be excited about it, and probably even more so because it's against the Yankees."

Video: BAL@OAK: Cahill K's career-high 12 in 6 scoreless

Melvin anticipates Cahill missing the minimum 10 days. The move was largely precautionary, and an MRI on his elbow came back clean. Cahill played catch Tuesday and experienced only slight soreness.

"After battling injury last year, don't really wanna push it, especially this early in the year," Cahill said. "If anything, just being overly cautious. I've never had any issues with my elbow ever. That's the other thing. Certain things you've had in the past frequently, you know how to deal with it. But with new injuries, you're kind of in the dark and just hoping and don't really know if you can pitch through it. With it being in a new area, just being precautionary and take a step back and regroup."

A's Honorary Bat Girl
Tina Baker, a Stage 3 breast cancer survivor who has been a loyal A's season-ticket member for more than 25 years, has been chosen as the A's Honorary Bat Girl this year.

Baker, diagnosed in 2011, underwent two surgeries, five months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation. Along the way, she experienced terrible side effects, yet desired to continue life as usual and watch A's baseball games.

She also took to writing, starting a blog to document her journey and educate those around her on the many side effects that accompany breast cancer and its treatment.

Baker says she "was given a rare opportunity to see life before me and realize how precious it is and how swiftly it can be taken away. I have been blessed to have many loved ones and friends in my life who supported me through this process, but the Oakland A's will always hold a special place in my heart for the support and attention they bring to breast cancer awareness."

Each year, all 30 clubs select an Honorary Bat Girl to take the field as part of Major League Baseball's "Going To Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative. Because the A's are on the road this Mother's Day, Baker will serve her duties at a home game later this season. Louisville Slugger will donate proceeds from the sale of their pink bats, which will be stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo, to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer. MLB will again donate its licensed uniform royalties through Mother's Day apparel to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.

Oakland Athletics, Trevor Cahill, Dustin Fowler