PHOENIX — The experience Jason Windsor gained from his four appearances with the A's in 2006 will serve him well this season.

What he learned about himself might be even more valuable.

No one doubts the big right-hander has the arm to succeed in the big leagues. But Windsor said his confidence level wasn't always where it should have been last season when he took the mound for Oakland.

"I had the mentality that I was afraid to fail, instead of just going out there and doing my job," Windsor said.

He got his first call-up in July and made two starts, pitching well in his major league debut at Baltimore but getting hammered against Boston. He returned to Oakland when rosters were expanded in September, making one start and one relief appearance.

Windsor went 0-1 with a 6.59 ERA, but pitching coach Curt Young noticed a difference in Windsor during his second stint in Oakland.

"To come back up at the end, it was a good thing," Young said. "The first time up in the major leagues, it's what you've been dreaming about, what you've been working toward. You have to learn you can do it. When he came up in September, I felt a real confidence about what he was feeling."

It's easy to see what the A's like about his ability. The 6-foot-2, 233-pounder led the farm system with 158 strikeouts in 2006 and combined for a sterling 17-2 record between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento.

CROSBY UPDATE: Shortstop Bobby Crosby had six at-bats in a minor league game at Papago Park on Friday. He went 1-for-4 with a double and two walks.

Though it was thought Crosby might be in the A's lineup today, Geren said he wants him to play defense in a minor league game first. That might come today, meaning Crosby's season debut with the A's could be Sunday or Monday.

BLANTON ROUGHED UP: Joe Blanton started Friday against the Arizona Diamondbacks and gave up five straight hits to start the game, including a monster three-run homer to Carlos Quentin. He was pulled after 3 innings, giving up six earned run on nine hits.

Still, Blanton wasn't overly concerned after his third start. He's focusing more on how his pitches are rounding into form than how his final line reads. He was happy with his slider and changeup but said his fastball and curveball were hardly in top form.

"My fastball was probably the worst it's been this spring."

SHORT HOPS: Setup man Justin Duchscherer, recovering from right triceps tendinitis, played catch and threw breaking balls for the first time since his injury. He is scheduled to throw a full bullpen today and said he's hopeful he'll appear in his first game Monday. ... Right-hander Mike Mitchell, a nonroster invitee, entered Friday's game in relief of Blanton with runners on the corners and one out. Mitchell picked Orlando Hudson off first and then struck out Eric Byrnes on a 3-2 slider. He has yet to give up a run in six outings this spring and may be forcing himself into consideration for a bullpen spot. ... Lefty reliever Ron Flores gave up a two-run homer to Hudson. Arizona won 8-5 to drop the A's to 7-8-1 in the Cactus League. ... The A's optioned right-hander Marcus McBeth to Triple-A Sacramento. ... Outfielder Bobby Kielty, rehabbing from left knee surgery, hit soft toss for the first time.