Bob Melvin had a surprise for his season-ending lineup, starting just four regulars and going outside-the-box with his batting order:
A’s — Crisp CF, Taylor LF, Weeks 2B, Willingham DH, Sizemore 3B, Carter 1B, Miller RF, Powell C, Rosales SS; Gonzalez LHP.
Mariners — Ichiro RF, Robinson CF, Ackley 2B, Smoak 1B, Carp LF, Kennedy DH, Liddi 3B, Seager SS, Gimenez C; Vasquez LHP.
–Overall, there’s plenty of excitement throughout the A’s clubhouse about the season-opening trip to Tokyo next season to play the Mariners. It’s a mixture of curiosity about experiencing a new culture (a great majority of the roster wasn’t around for the 2008 trip to Japan) and offering a goodwill gesture for a country still recovering from the deadly earthquake and tsunami that hit in March.
The plan would have the A’s and Mariners playing regular season games March 28-29 at the Tokyo Dome, with each team playing two exhibitions beforehand. The A’s would spend nine days in Japan according to a tentative itinerary, valuable time for them to get used to the time change before playing games that count.
The big question, of course, is whether Hideki Matsui will be back with the A’s, which would set up a showdown between him and Ichiro Suzuki in their native country. Matsui spoke with caution about the trip, acknowledging that he doesn’t know if he’ll be in an Oakland uniform in 2012. But he said: “There’s a lot of major league baseball fans over there, and with what happened in March with the earthquake, it’s even more encouraging (for people) to be able to watch games live in person.” Matsui played there in 2004 with the Yankees, and while he enjoyed the experience, he joked: “It was a bit more challenging off-field as far as being a tour guide.”
–Thanks for reading the blog all season long, and please continue to check back over the offseason. The A’s always manage to make news and stay in the rumor mill, and I’ll be updating here as the news and rumors develop.
Enjoy the winter! …