Sweeney, Powell receive first starts; DeJesus leads off
Looking to get his club its first series win of the season, manager Bob Geren shook up his lineup in Sunday’s finale against the Twins, handing Ryan Sweeney and Landon Powell their first starts of the 2011 campaign.
Geren also inserted David DeJesus into the leadoff spot while giving Coco Crisp his first day off. DeJesus played center and Sweeney, a former lineup regular, manned right field, where he made 76 of his 77 starts last year.
“It’s good to see Ryan in there,” Geren said. “I think both Sweeney and DeJesus are pretty equal in center, but Ryan’s arm in right brought it that way.”
The 26-year-old Sweeney, who is occupying a bench role alongside Conor Jackson, had started each of the previous three A’s openers before this year and was batting a team-leading .294 with one homer and 36 RBIs in 82 games last season before undergoing season-ending right knee surgery at the end of July.
Sweeney is considered the club’s best left-handed option off the bench, given his career .298 average against righties. In comparison, he owns a .248 mark when facing left-handers. He entered Sunday’s contest with a career .200 average against Twins right-handed starter Scott Baker, but that number spanned just five at-bats.
Powell, meanwhile, had never faced Baker, but Geren said the backstop couldn’t be more mentally prepared for his start behind the plate, as he carefully watched video of each pitch from starter Brandon McCarthy’s last outing.
DeJesus’ standing at the top of the lineup marked his 641st career start in the leadoff hole, where he owns a career .294 mark and .807 OPS with 54 home runs, 290 RBIs and 40 stolen bases in 2,540 at-bats.
“He’s the second-most experienced guy in that spot,” Geren said. “Anywhere in the top of the lineup, he’s done it.”
DeJesus has hit safely in each of his four games during the road trip (5-for-16) after going 1-for-12 in three games in Oakland, and he also has a 24-game hitting streak against the Twins. Overall, the A’s outfielder is 108-for-340 (.318) vs. Minnesota.
-Rain is in the forecast for today’s series finale in Minnesota, but the A’s are hoping it stays away long enough to allow them to complete their first series win of the season. Here are your lineups:
A’s: DeJesus CF, Barton 1B, Willingham LF, Matsui DH, Sweeney RF, Ellis 2B, Kouzmanoff 3B, Powell C, Pennington SS
Twins: Span CF, Mauer C, Morneau 1B, Thome DH, Young LF, Kubel RF, Cuddyer 2B, Valencia 3B, Casilla SS