3:05 PM ET, March 28, 2006
Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Phoenix, Arizona
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."