Random A’s notes: Josh Outman’s crazy number; Daric Barton and bunting; no outfield for Hideki Matsui in near future
By Joe Stiglich
Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 at 10:06 am in 2011 Spring Training.
The A’s hold their Cactus League home opener against Cincinnati today, but is there such thing as a home opener when the team is 645 miles away from Oakland? (That’s the distance between Phoenix and Oakland that I found online anyway, and I’m going with it).
–David DeJesus (illness) is feeling much better today and he actually has some color in his face. He’s not in the lineup, but he did some bunting in the cage this morning. DeJesus could play Wednesday against the Indians.
Gonzalez P (followed by Brett Anderson)
–Conor Jackson draws a start in right field, as manager Bob Geren wants him to get innings in left and right field, as well as first base in spring training. Chris Carter is at DH, but he’ll continue to get lots of outfield time in the Cactus League despite Monday’s adventures in left field, Geren said.
–I see Josh Outman taking the mound wearing No. 88, and I can’t help but think he aspires to be an NFL wide receiver. Outman gave up No. 55 to Hideki Matsui when the A’s signed the designated hitter, but Outman wasn’t married to that number anyway. But he did wear No. 8 in college and in the minor leagues, so you could see how the wheels turned in his head when he needed to choose new digits. “Fifty-five was the number given to me when I was called up in 2008. It was just the number Vuc (A’s equipment manager Steve Vucinich) gave to me,” he said. “Suzuki’s No. 8, and I know it’s taboo for a pitcher to wear single digits. I figured nobody’s ever going to want 88. I figured if I can play 15 years, I’ll be able to keep 88 for 15 years. You get comfortable with a number. You get comfortable with a pair of shoes.” A wacky number fits this guy pretty good. I think I’ve mentioned before that Outman has some under-the-radar nuttiness going in his personality.
–Last season, Daric Barton had 12 sacrifice bunts, the most by any major league first baseman since Rod Carew had 16 in 1982. Being able to bunt a guy over is a useful skill for a No. 2 hitter, but several times last year, Barton decided to bunt on his own as opposed to getting the bunt sign. Most of those came in the first half of the season, and Geren said he talked with Barton midway through last season about being more aggressive and swinging the bat more to try advancing guys. Geren said he’ll give Barton the bunt sign when it’s warranted, but will take away the voluntary sacrifice bunt option “just because he’s too valuable,” Geren said. “He’s too good of a hitter to give himself up.”
Interesting stuff, and I think the A’s are a better offensive team if Barton takes a more aggressive approach at the plate.
–Geren has no plans to use Hideki Matsui in the outfield in the near future. “In a perfect season, he would just DH, with the possibility of some outfield in interleague play,” Geren said. “His legs feel good and I want for him to feel that way all through the season.”
–Sunday is a possibility for shortstop Cliff Pennington to play in his first exhibition, as the A’s have split-squad games that day and will need every body available.
That’s all for now …