A’s to get creative during Willingham’s absence

It’s Dan Brown tonight filling in for Joe Stiglich. The last time I covered an A’s game, Jimmy Haynes was pitching. Have I missed anything? Anyway, here are a few pre-game notes as well as tonight’s starting lineup.

Pre-game notes

With injured left fielder Josh Willingham out a few days, Hideki Matsui will spend more time with his glove than expected.

Manager Bob Melvin said Saturday that Matsui could play “multiple games” in left field if Willingham remains sidelined during the A’s upcoming road games against the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.

Playing in National League ballparks means no designated hitter. And the power-starved A’s can’t afford to have their top two home run hitters out of the lineup at the same time.

Matsui had been in line to start in right field once in each city. Instead, he will reacquaint himself with the position he has played 582 times in his major league career – but only 18 times since 2009.

Willingham, who leads the A’s in home runs (10) and RBIs (42), had to come out of Friday’s game after aggravating an Achilles injury. He is listed as day-to-day because the A’s remain confident he can avoid the disabled list.

On Saturday, Adam Rosales made his fourth career start in the left field. Because he makes his living as a utility player, Rosales was unfazed to see his name in the lineup as an outfielder.

The biggest difference between the infield and the outfield?

“A bigger glove,’’ Rosales said.

— With Willingham out, Melvin shuffled the lineup. Outfielder Coco Crisp hit in the No. 3 spot for the first time since 2005 and could stay in that spot until Willingham returns.
Rookie second baseman Jemile Weeks took over Crisp’s leadoff spot. “I was a little reluctant to do that because (Weeks) is hitting so well in the No. 9 spot,’’ Melvin said.

— First baseman Daric Barton, who entered play hitting .211, was the No. 9 hitter for the first time this year. “(He’s) in the lineup,’’ Melvin said. “It is what it is.”

— Brandon McCarthy, on the D.L. since May 29 with a stress reaction in his right scapula, faced hitters during batting practice and said he felt fine.

McCarthy’s next big stop will be in San Jose next Tuesday, when will throw 65-70 pitches for the Class A Stockton Ports. After that, the right-hander is slated to throw 85-95 pitches for Triple-A Sacramento on June 21.

“I’m just putting things back together,’’ McCarthy said.

— Frances Perenon, who has lived in Oakland her entire life, celebrated her 100th birthday by throwing out the first pitch.

Trivia time
Two of the top five players taken in the 1981 draft are now on the A’s staff. Name them.

(Answer below)

Starting lineup

Jemile Weeks, 2B
Cliff Pennington, SS
Coco Crisp, CF
Hideki Matsui, DH
Conor Jackson, RF
Kurt Suzuki, C
Scott Sizemore, 3B
Adam Rosales, LF
Daric Barton, 1B

Guillermo Moscoso, P

Trivia answer

In the 1981 draft, Bob Melvin went No. 2 (to the Tigers) and Ron Romanick went No. 4 (to the Angels).

If you need me …

You can always reach me directly at dbrown@mercurynews.com

Joe Stiglich