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Oakland 8, Texas 3

PHOENIX (AP) -- All winter, Frank Thomas worked out with the hope
of being ready by opening day.

He is fit and healthy now, and his swing isn't bad either.

Oakland's new designated hitter drove in two runs on sacrifice
flies in the Athletics' 8-3 win over Texas on Tuesday. He sharply
lined the ball to left in a four-run third against starter Juan
Dominguez, then added a fly to center in the fifth.

Thomas played in just his second Cactus League game. He made
several minor league appearances, but the A's have taken extra
precautions with the slugger this spring after injuries shortened
his last two seasons with the Chicago White Sox.

Thomas was cleared to play Saturday after having his troublesome
left ankle examined by team physician Dr. Jerrald Goldman and hit a
home run in his first game Sunday against Colorado.

His productive at-bats Tuesday were another positive sign for
the A's, who signed Thomas to $500,000, one-year contract in
January.

"Nice approach, two sacrifice flies," manager Ken Macha said.
"Jerrald's been working on it with him."

Thomas plans to play in consecutive games for the first time
Wednesday, when the A's host the San Francisco Giants in the last
Arizona game for both squads before they meet again this weekend
back in the Bay Area.

"The likelihood of him playing back-to-back is good," Macha
said.

Thomas was not available after the game.

Mark DeRosa and Phil Nevin homered for Texas. DeRosa hit a solo
shot in the first off Joe Blanton, who bounced back for his first
exhibition win thanks in large part to Thomas.

Thomas began last season on the disabled list following surgery
on his left ankle, played for the first time on May 31, then went
back on the DL on July 21 with another left ankle fracture. He did
not play again and could only watch as the White Sox swept Houston
to win the World Series for the first time since 1917.

Thomas batted .219 with 12 homers and 26 RBI in 34 games after
playing only 74 games in 2004 following a 42-homer season the
previous year.

The Big Hurt, who turns 38 next month, lost 15 pounds from his
muscular 6-foot-5 frame and weighs about 275 pounds heading into
Monday's season opener in Oakland against the New York Yankees. He
even took to riding a stationary bike in the sauna this offseason
to boost his cardiovascular capability.

During December's winter meetings in Dallas, the White Sox
declined to offer him salary arbitration, ending a 16-year
relationship between Thomas and his only major league team. He was
shocked but has said he is now focused on what's ahead with the
A's, who have missed the playoffs the past two seasons.

Thomas' deal includes $2.6 million in incentives based on plate
appearances and not hurting his ankle.

"He looks like he's getting locked in," Blanton said. "The
whole team benefits from him being in the lineup. He looks like
he's ready to go."

Dominguez, competing for the No. 5 spot in the Rangers'
rotation, allowed four runs and five hits in four innings, walked
three and struck out one.

Manager Buck Showalter said Texas officials would discuss the
pitching staff later Tuesday.

"He had one inning that got away from him but otherwise he
pitched OK," Showalter said. "His command and walks were a bit of
a problem. It seemed like when he really reached back, his command
suffered."

Game notes
A's 3B Eric Chavez, the cleanup hitter batting in front of
Thomas, was thrown out on the bases twice. ... Oakland RHP reliever
Justin Duchscherer pitched in a minor league game to stay on
schedule. ... Texas C Gerald Laird was a perfect 5-for-5 throwing
out base stealers until Jay Payton stole second in the sixth. ...
A's INF Antonio Perez was cleared to play after missing four days
with dizziness caused when he fouled a ball off home plate and was
hit in the nose on Thursday. ... The Rangers, 4-1 as a road team to
start spring training and 2-6 since, lead the Cactus League with 40
homers and have 13 in their last six games.