Live From Phoenix: Spring Training Photobook recently made a trip down to Phoenix, Arizona for a first-hand look at the A's spring training camp. Photo Editor Chris Lockard gives us a glimpse of A's spring training camp.

A's prospects Nick Swisher and Daric Barton discuss the finer points of hitting after a spirited batting cage session before the A's spring training game against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. Barton had his first hit and his first RBI of the spring later that day. The A's won that game, 13-1.

Swisher gets some time in at first base during fielding practice before Wednesday's contest against the Padres. Swisher, who has been primarily an outfielder as a professional, will serve as Scott Hatteberg's primary back-up at first base this season. Swisher was a first baseman and centerfielder in college at Ohio State.

Top prospect Daric Barton got back into the swing of things this past week, making his spring training debut. Barton, who was sidelined by an appendectomy and a sore right elbow, has gone 2-5 with three runs scored and an RBI this week.

Barton was acquired by the A's in the Mark Mulder trade in December. He had been a catcher in the St. Louis Cardinals' chain, but the A's have decided to move him to first base so that he can move through the A's system quicker.

Manager Ken Macha gives A's catching prospect John Baker a few batting tips during a batting session before Wednesday's game against the Padres. Baker responded by crushing a number of deep drives to right field. Baker, who will likely be in Sacramento to start the season, has drawn praise from the A's coaching staff for his work ethic. He has gotten a lot of work with the A's pitching staff in the bullpen and in practice sessions this spring.

Catcher Kurt Suzuki gets ready for a batting practice session before Thursday's game against the Chicago Cubs. Suzuki, a 2004 draft pick, has opened a lot of eyes with his high level of play, especially on the defensive-side of the ball. He has already thrown out five baserunners, and he made a spectacular catch against the backstop during the 9th inning of Friday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Reliever Juan Cruz throws a pitch during a simulated game on Wednesday. Cruz faced Bobby Kielty, John Baker, Jeremy Brown, Kurt Suzuki, Shawn Garrett and Daric Barton during the game. He drew a few whistles from the participants after he threw a few fastballs by the hitters. He has struck out nine hitters in nine innings pitched this spring and he has only walked one.

Justin Duchscherer and Jeremy Brown joke around during practice on Wednesday. Duchscherer has had a solid spring. He has allowed only two runs in eight innings pitched. The "Duke" had to fight for a roster spot with the A's last spring, but he came into this training camp with a bullpen spot secured after a fine season as the A's long reliever in 2004. Duchscherer will also be an emergency starter for the A's and will be stretched out this spring so that he will be capable of making a spot start if needed. He worked three innings on Saturday and will have more multiple inning outings before camp breaks. As a starter in 2003, Duchscherer was the PCL Pitcher of the Year.

Eric Byrnes (shown celebrating his two-run homerun on Wednesday) and Charles Thomas (awaiting a pitch against the Padres) are two very important cogs in the A's outfield rotation going into the 2005 season. Thomas and Byrnes will be the A's best base-stealing threats this season and are both capable of playing all three outfield positions. Both should see the majority of their playing time in left field.

A group of A's minor league players head back to the clubhouse after a morning of baseball drills on Thursday. Oakland A's minor league spring training camp opened this week at the A's Phoenix baseball complex at Papago Park. The A's minor league players began playing games on Thursday. The minor league regular seasons begin roughly two weeks after the major league season gets underway.

All photos by Chris Lockard.

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