My schedule and work routine have been turned upside down here in Japan with the 16-hour time difference. And with all the non-baseball stuff taking place on this trip, it’s easy to forget there’s two regular season games to be played at end of it. But opening night (how ‘bout opening morning, West Coast!!) is finally here, and I look forward to covering a game that counts.
A’s — Weeks 2B, Pennington SS, Crisp LF, Smith DH, Suzuki C, Reddick RF, Cespedes CF, Allen 1B, Sogard 3B; McCarthy RHP
Mariners – Figgins 3B, Ackley 2B, Ichiro RF, Smoak 1B, Montero DH, Carp LF, Olivo C, Saunders CF, Ryan SS; Hernandez RHP.
–Remember that news about Yoenis Cespedes batting fifth? Never mind. Cespedes will make his big league debut in the No. 7 spot, with Kurt Suzuki batting fifth. “(Suzuki) deserves to be there right now the way he’s swinging the bat, and with his numbers off (Felix) Hernandez,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It was more about Kurt than (Cespedes). I do expect Yoenis to be a middle-of-the-order bat at some point in time.”
Suzuki is 8 for 26 (.308) with a homer off Hernandez in his career – good numbers. He also homered in both exhibitions here in Tokyo. But I believe this is very much about Cespedes – trying not to heap big expectations on him so early, and also acknowledging that he’s struggled at the plate to this point. He was 5 for 29 (.172) with nine strikeouts in exhibitions and has had trouble with breaking balls like some predicted he would. I’m not surprised the A’s made this move. But let’s face it – Cespedes has more power potential than anybody else on this roster, so if he shows even a degree of production, he’ll move up the batting order quickly. I’m pretty curious to see him tonight, I’ll tell you that.