2007 A's starters 

The lineup: JASON KENDALL, CATCHER. He might be the grittiest player on the team — and the most stubborn. Found his stroke after early struggle. Finished strong, hitting .358 in August and .300 in September.

SHANNON STEWART, LEFT FIELD

» Foot injury limited ex-Minnesota Twin to just 44 games last year. Has been off his game somewhat since leaving Toronto. Injuries have negated ex-leadoff hitter’s speed game.

MILTON BRADLEY, CENTER FIELD

» With Mark Kotsay’s back injury, Bradley becomes even more important with shift from right field. Needs to be bigger part of offense. Hit just .276 with 14 homers last year in just 96 games.

MIKE PIAZZA, DESIGNATED HITTER

» Former 62nd-round draft pick developed into Hall of Fame-caliber catcher — at least offensively (419 career homers). Now, he ditches that wear and tear to DH.

ERIC CHAVEZ, THIRD BASE

» Hamstring and forearm injuries never landed Chavvy on the disabled list, but hampered his ability to hit (career-worst .241) and drive in runs (70 RBIs, lowest since rookie year).

NICK SWISHER, RIGHT FIELD

» Emotional leader blossomed power-wise last year with 35 homers and 95 RBIs to go along with team-high 97 walks. Seemed comfortable at first, but moves back to outfield.

BOBBY CROSBY, SHORTSTOP

» Was brought along cautiously in spring training following back injury. Tough-minded shortstop has potential to be difference-maker on offense and defense.

DAN JOHNSON, FIRST BASE

» Could turn into poster boy for laser eye surgery if he comes anywhere close to the minor-league numbers he posted.

MARK ELLIS, SECOND BASE

» After hitting .316 in 2005, stroke was inconsistent in 2006, resulting in .249 average. Excellent defensively.

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The Rotation

DAN HAREN, RIGHT-HANDER

» Control freak who walked just 1.82 per nine innings last year. Won 14 games each of the past two years and made all his starts.

ESTEBAN LOAIZA, RIGHT-HANDER

» High-priced addition didn’t come close to earning his bucks last year, winning just 11 times and posting a 4.89 ERA.

RICH HARDEN, RIGHT-HANDER

» Sprained elbow ligament kept him on the shelf for most of 2006. Is 26-0 in career when given four runs of support.

JOE BLANTON, RIGHT-HANDER

» Tied for team lead with 16 wins, but got hit quite a bit. Allowed fifth-most hits in AL (241) en route to 4.82 ERA.

JOE KENNEDY, LEFT-HANDER

» Had a horrible spring that had team looking at anybody who could fill No. 5 spot. Bullpen will need to be ready.

The Closer

HUSTON STREET, RIGHT-HANDER

» His 60 saves in two seasons are fifth-most by someone age 23 or younger. Struggled when used on consecutive days.

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