Opening Day may have officially been in Japan last week, but the A’s have their Stateside opener today against the Seattle Mariners and are glad to be back.
“No one is going to have a tough time getting up for an opener here in Oakland,” manager Bob Melvin said. “This is the one you always have your calendar marked on that day.”
But the Oakland opener will be different than it was a year ago.
This time last year, there were high expectations and some thought the A’s had a chance to contend for a postseason spot.
Now the A’s have a cast of young guys looking to prove their worth at the major-league level, highlighted by Cuban import Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes, 26, has batted seventh, sixth, fourth and sixth in the last couple of weeks and that movement will probably continue.
“He’ll move around some. Nobody is married to a spot at this point,” Melvin said. “We’ll move it around and matchup some and see where it plays out in the coming weeks. But we expect him to be a middle of the order hitter at some point in time.”
Cespedes, who had two doubles off of the Giants’ Matt Cain in Tuesday’s exhibition, is still getting used to major-league pitching and that was evident in the two games against Seattle in Japan.
The center fielder hit his first home run, but also struck out three times in six at-bats.
“I think each and every day we’re getting a better read on him and what we think he can do,” Melvin said. “I think as a club you look at yourself in a couple of months at what you need to do as a team. It’s probably a similar situation with him.”
Melvin also said he is encouraged about his outfield defense. To go along with Coco Crisp and Cespedes, Josh Reddick has impressed the A’s skipper.
“I’ve been pretty pleased with Reddick,” Melvin said. “Not only going and getting balls, but throwing as well. He’s made several good throws this spring and looks like he’s going to be a right fielder that can cut some runs down at the plate like he did [on Monday].”
Cliff Pennington should be ready for today’s opener after leaving Monday’s game with a groin injury.
The A’s will launch the season-long honoring of the 40th anniversary of the team’s 1972 World Series champions, beginning with ’72 World Series MVP Gene Tenace throwing out the first pitch.
A’s (1-1) vs. Mariners (1-1)
WHEN: Today, 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: O.co Coliseum
TV: Comcast SportsNet California
RADIO: KGMZ (95.7 FM)