Barton, Ka’aihue both in the lineup as A’s try to even series against Rays

My first inclination is often to give you a weather update to start the blog. Not exactly applicable here at Tropicana Field, where it’s always living-room temperature. It’s been quite some time since we’ve had an A’s-Rays game held on a Saturday at the Trop with no postgame concert. Last season we got the Go-Go’s and Goo Goo Dolls on one weekend. A couple years before that it was Smashmouth. It’s all about the baseball tonight …

The lineups:

A’s – Weeks 2B, Pennington SS, Reddick RF, Cespedes CF, Smith LF, Ka’aihue DH, Suzuki C, Barton 1B, Inge 3B; Colon RHP.

TB – Jennings LF, Upton CF, Pena 1B, Joyce RF, Scott DH, Zobrist 2B, Rhymes 3B, Molina C, Johnson SS; Hellickson RHP.

It’s rare that Daric Barton and Kila Ka’aihue are in the lineup together, but Ka’aihue is playing well enough that he deserves to play everyday. At the same time, A’s manager Bob Melvin wants to continue playing Barton when he can, with the hope he gets it going at the plate. With the Rays throwing lefty Matt Moore tomorrow, Ka’aihue is likely to play first again because he hits lefties better. “We do need to get everybody involved, and Daric hasn’t played in a little bit,” Melvin said. “He’s a guy we expect to pick it up and do well, so we have to get him in there at some point.”

Melvin didn’t offer specifics, but he said the rotation will be tweaked with a day off coming Monday. I could see the A’s skipping Tyson Ross’ next turn Thursday against Detroit and instead bringing Bartolo Colon back on his normal rest that day. That would give Ross time to iron out his mechanical issues in side sessions if the A’s indeed stick with him. Melvin was asked if he foresees Ross staying in the rotation. “Sitting here at this point I don’t have any planned changes,” Melvin said. “I mean, anything can change in this game, but sitting here right now, no.”

I asked Melvin about his unusual bullpen breakdown right now – it’s not often you see a seven-man bullpen that features four left-handers. But that’s what the A’s have with Jerry Blevins, Brian Fuentes, Pedro Figueroa and Jordan Norberto. From the right side, it’s Grant Balfour, Ryan Cook and long man Jim Miller. “It’s tough to only have 3 right-handers, and one being a long guy,” Melvin said. “ And Cook and Balfour are the guys you expect to pitch the eighth and ninth, so you have to have some left-handers who can get some right-handers out. Figueroa at this point has shown he’s been able to, Norberto as well. But we do feel at some point we’re gonna add another right hander.”

Melvin has mentioned he’s ready to start testing Figueroa in some higher-pressure situations, so keep an eye on whether he gets used for a key lefty-on-lefty matchup in upcoming games. As for right-handed relievers in the minors, Melvin said he expects Fautino De Los Santos, Andrew Carignan and Neil Wagner all to make their way back to the majors this season at some point.

Joe Stiglich