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Pennington will hit second, Cespedes fifth in A’s likely opening day lineup; Allen gets nod at first base

A’s manager Bob Melvin unveiled his likely opening day lineup Sunday, and it contained a mild surprise near the top of the batting order. Cliff Pennington hit second in an exhibition against the Yomiuri Giants, with Coco Crisp batting third, Seth Smith cleanup and Yoenis Cespedes fifth.

The complete lineup:

Weeks 2B
Pennington SS
Crisp LF
Smith DH
Cespedes CF
Reddick RF
Suzuki C
Allen 1B
Donaldson 3B

Melvin had indicated during spring that he liked Crisp batting second behind leadoff man Jemile Weeks, with Pennington batting ninth. But Pennington’s .395 average in spring training convinced him to move the shortstop up. “I think the spring that ‘Penny’ had probably warrants him hitting ‘2’,” Melvin said before the exhibition. “… And it gives us speed with those three guys (at the top).” Though Cespedes batted third or fourth in most of his Cactus League starts, Melvin thinks hitting him fifth will take some pressure off Cespedes, who makes his major league debut in Wednesday’s opener against Seattle. “And it surrounds him with a couple lefties” in Smith and Reddick.

“There’s a decent chance this could be the opening day lineup,” Melvin said. So it looks like Brandon Allen has beat out Kila Ka’aihue for the first base job. The one change Melvin said he might make is at third base, where he might insert the left-handed hitting Eric Sogard for Josh Donaldson against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. Right-handers have hit just .236 off Hernandez over his career, though it’s not like lefties are doing significantly better at .252. With the Mariners throwing lefty Jason Vargas in the second game, Melvin said he could switch things up after the opener. But he indicated that Sunday’s look could be his lineup for the “foreseeable future.”

There’s not a lot of power up and down that lineup, but we weren’t expecting the A’s to be a bunch of bashers. They will need their speedy trio atop the lineup to get on base and create scoring opportunities. They’ll need Cespedes to prove he’s a major league run producer, and they could sure use a little pop from Allen at the bottom of the order.

Joe Stiglich