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Crisp set to make long-awaited return to A's

Outfielder sidelined more than 2 months with neck strain

OAKLAND -- A's outfielder Coco Crisp could be activated as soon as Monday after nursing a neck strain for more than two months.

Just don't look for him in the leadoff spot. Crisp, who has spent the majority of his A's career at the top of the batting order, is likely to hit behind Billy Burns, who has cemented himself as a reliable sparkplug from the No. 1 hole.

"I talked to Coco a little bit about that," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I do like the dynamic potentially of them two at the top, which means we may look to hit Coco second, and I think that may help him some, too. When Billy's on base, certainly there's a lot of attention on him, and Coco's a pretty good situational guy.

"Sitting here right now, that's probably the plan, but he's pretty open to where he's hitting in the lineup."

Crisp, who also missed the first month of the season after undergoing right elbow surgery, was just 2-for-45 upon his return in May before hitting the DL again. He proceeded to go 4-for-19 with two home runs -- hit in the same game -- in a combined five rehab contests with Class A Advanced Stockton.

Asked Sunday morning about his readiness for big league action, the 35-year-old left fielder replied, "Sure."

Crisp has dealt with neck issues for more than a year, unwilling to commit to surgery that could potentially end his career. He believes he will never play at 100 percent again, "but the plan all along was to make sure he was healthy enough to come back and play multiple games in a row and not have to play him six or seven innings and take him out of the game," Melvin said.

"He'll be a full go once he's activated," he continued. "We want production out of him."

Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (right shoulder strain) could also be reinstated from the DL on Monday, after pitching in back-to-back rehab games for Triple-A Nashville on Friday and Saturday.

Worth noting

• Left-hander Sean Doolittle, on the DL with a strained left shoulder, is expected to face hitters in a simulated game at the Coliseum sometime this week, Melvin said.

Jane Lee is a reporter for Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.
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