Manny to DH in Friday’s opener
A’s manager Bob Melvin advised reporters Thursday morning not to read too much into Friday’s lineup for the Cactus League opener against the Mariners. That notion is supported by his decision to start Manny Ramirez at DH. Ramirez, of course, is banned from the club’s first 50 games. Plenty regulars will be sprinkled around Manny, but the order in which they appear won’t necessarily have an Opening Day-look. Melvin plans on experimenting with several lineups over the next couple of weeks,in part because there are several spots up for grabs, including first base, third base and DH. The outfield is also far from settled, as it remains to be seen where Yoenis Cespedes fits into the picture once he reports to camp, which I’m hearing could be as soon as tomorrow.
Among those heavily in the mix at first base is Daric Barton,who is getting three days off after receiving a cortisone shot recently. Melvin said he should be hitting again Sunday and it’s a possibility he could slot into the DH slot in one of Monday’s split-squad contests. Barton, recovering from shoulder surgery, isn’t expected to be ready to play defense until mid-March at the earliest. That would seemingly put him behind fellow first-base contenders Brandon Allen, Kila Ka’aihue and Chris Carter, but not as much as you would think. The A’s are very familiar with Barton’s abilities as a defender, so it’s not like he’ll be having to prove himself all that much with his glove. His bat, more so, will do the talking, it seems. But it will be interesting to see just how soon he’s allowed to take the field at first base.