Matsui out of lineup; Breslow makes debut

Hideki Matsui is out of the lineup with neck stiffness, though he said he’s feeling much better today and should be ready to go again tomorrow. He’s slated to play in the outfield for a few innings in Thursday’s game against the D-Backs — they wouldn’t allow the A’s to carry a DH — and he said he’s not concerned about his neck affecting those plans.

Matsui’s spring numbers aren’t great — he’s hitting just .143 — but it’s important to remember that Cactus League performances rarely carry over into the regular season. He noted through his translator this morning that he never pays much attention to his numbers around this time of the year. Rather, he focuses on how his swing feels and his timing — both of which he said are coming along. “As far as readiness,” he said, “I feel pretty good.”

The Japanese slugger isn’t the only one without a healthy dose of hits this spring. Conor Jackson (.156) and David DeJesus (.200) haven’t produced much, and Josh Willingham (.220) and Mark Ellis (.225) aren’t too far behind. I don’t think anyone’s worried at this point, though, because it’s really about regaining that comfort level at the plate and studying pitches.

Joey Devine will throw in a Minor League game today after pitching in a simulated game on Monday. As I mentioned in this story, he said he still feels like he has a lot of work to do before being ready to throw in a big league game. Much of that comes with just wanting to feel good for consecutive outings — physically and mechanically. It’s unlikely he’ll start the year with the team, but the fact that he’s healthy is a positive sign.

In other bullpen news, Craig Breslow is scheduled to make his spring debut today. He’ll likely get one inning of work in against the Reds.

Here’s who will start the game: Crisp CF, Barton 1B, DeJesus RF, Willingham LF, Sweeney DH, Suzuki C, Ellis 2B, Kouz 3B, Pennington SS, Anderson P

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