A's, Kielty agree to $2.1 million, 1-year deal

Updated: January 25, 2007, 7:15 PM ET
Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics all but completed their roster heading into spring training, agreeing Thursday with outfielder Bobby Kielty on a $2.1 million, one-year contract that avoided arbitration.

Kielty will likely be primarily a backup outfielder again for the A's, with Nick Swisher slated to start in left field, Mark Kotsay in center and Milton Bradley in right. Kielty, who is strongest against left-handed pitchers, batted .270 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 81 games for AL West champion Oakland last season.

His contract includes up to $100,000 in performance bonuses -- $25,000 each for 300, 350, 400 and 450 plate appearances. His batting average last year was the second highest of his career after he hit .291 in 2002.

"It's a happy day. I'm definitely pleased to get it done," Kielty said in a phone interview.

Kielty made 40 starts in left field and 27 in right as one of an Oakland-record five players to make at least 60 outfield starts.

New manager Bob Geren said at a luncheon Thursday that he likes the depth of his club and doesn't plan to change a lot from a team that won 93 games and the division, then advanced to the AL championship series with a first-round sweep of the Minnesota Twins. The A's were then swept by the Detroit Tigers in four games.

"I feel we have some flexibility, we have some talent and we have some players who can play multiple positions," said Geren, promoted from bench coach in November to replace Ken Macha. "I feel positive about it."

Kielty, who has added lean muscle to his frame this winter through his workouts and a high-protein diet, hopes he will get his chances in 2007. He said he feels as strong as he ever has.

"It's good to hear," he said of Geren's words. "I think I should be hitting against left-handed pitching most of the time and probably against righties who I have good matchups with. That's kind of how it's been last year and the year before. I don't see it changing too much. Whoever's swinging the bat the best is probably going to play."

Oakland's pitchers and catchers report to the team's Phoenix facility Feb. 16.

Geren said shortstop Bobby Crosby has begun to regain strength in his troublesome back, which sidelined the 2004 AL Rookie of the Year in late August for the remainder of the season and the playoffs.

While Crosby could be limited early in spring training, Geren expects him to be ready by opening day.

"Obviously, we need him in April," Geren said. "If he needs to be limited early, we'll go that route."

Rich Harden, the projected ace of the pitching staff now that Barry Zito moved across the bay to join the Giants, has been throwing about three days a week in Arizona.

He also is eager to get started after an injury-shortened season. He returned for the ALCS, falling behind early in Game 3.

Harden was pitching for the first time since the final day of the regular season Oct. 1, which was his third start back after missing more than three months with a strained ligament in his right elbow.

"If he's healthy, he's always been a dominant guy," Geren said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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