In for John Hickey …
The A’s called out “Come back, Shane” on Tuesday. C’mon, I had to use that line, right?
After a false alarm last week in Houston, when he was dispatched to possibly replace expectant father Brandon Moss but never did, Shane Peterson is finally going to get his chance. With Moss now officially on paternity leave the next two days — no word on the baby just yet — the 25-year-old is in the lineup tonight against the Astros at first base for his major-league debut.
The yo-yo has probably been the hardest on Peterson’s parents, who live in Temecula (near San Diego). They drove to Sacramento last week to see his Triple-A opener, caught a flight to Houston when Peterson was sent there for possible call-up, flew back to Sacramento when their son returned to the RiverCats, then drove home.
Then Tuesday morning, when Peterson got the call, his parents hopped in the car against and made the 7-8 hour drive to Oakland.
“It’s been some long travels for them,” said Peterson. “But obviously it’s worth it, and they don’t really care.”
Peterson is playing first base even though he’s played almost exclusively in the outfield the past two years in the Oakland organization. He played one game there last season, and one on Monday night. Anticipating a possible call-up to stand in for Moss, however, he has been taking a lot of ground balls at first in Sacramento.
And he does have first base experience in the minors — 124 games worth.
“I’ve played a lot of first in my life and I feel comfortable there, so hopefully I can stay within myself even in this big arena,” he said.
Peterson, who is the last player the A’s still have from the Matt Holliday trade, may yet make that trade pay off. He hit .408 during the spring and looked to be one of their most promising young hitters. He has continued that with the RiverCats, hitting .410 in 11 games with a .558 on-base as a result of his high average and PCL-leading 13 walks. He has five doubles and seven RBIs.
Peterson said in spring training that as a result of an ankle injury last year, he made an adjustment in his swing that renewed the promise that made him a second-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2008 draft. He’s riding it as long as he can.
“I feel like it’s mostly trying to maintain what I’ve been doing the last couple of months and trying to keep that confidence going, really just stay focused on what kind of hitter I’ve been and not try to do too many things,” he said.
Interestingly, Peterson’s first major-league at-bats will come against Brad Peacock, a former teammate with the RiverCats last year, who is now starting for the Astros.
“I played with him for 2-3 months,” Peterson said. “Hopefully he’ll take it easy on me.”
Manager Bob Melvin said he was happy Peterson made it back after the false alarm last week. He was not worried at all about his ability to handle first base.
“That’s his natural position, actually,” the manager said. “So I would think if there’s anywhere you haven’t played in awhile, you’d be comfortable with that. We weren’t able to get him there in spring, but did see him work out there and he looks like a natural. And he’s swinging the bat very well, hitting over .400. Every time I pick up the boxscores, it looks like he gets 2-3 hits. It’s another time we’re bringing a guy up who’s actually doing pretty well on top of it.”
Peterson was trying to manage his nerves before the game. He was hoping once the game started, he’d find his comfort zone in the field and at the plate. It’s been a long wait — more than 500 minor league games and more than 2,200 plate appearances.
“This is the dream for everybody who plays baseball to be at this stage and this level,” he said. “If it had taken five games, 500 games, 5,000 games, it means a lot just to be here and get this opportunity. Who knows how long it’s going to be, but I try not to worry about it. I just want to go out there and do my best day by day.”
Infielder Adam Rosales (intercostal strain) went through another rigorous pre-game workout and pronounced himself ready to go on a rehab assignment. And he’s getting one — the A’s are sending him to play with Class A Stockton against San Jose for the next three days starting Wednesday because the RiverCats are on the road.
It’s going to be a longer wait for shortstop Hiro Nakajima, still working his way back from a right hamstring strain. The A’s are targeting this weekend for Nakajima to run the bases, but Melvin said he probably wouldn’t go out on a rehab assignment until the A’s return from their upcoming trip to Tampa and Boston.
“Last week he had a couple of days that weren’t great, so we backed off a little bit,” Melvin said. “I wouldn’t call it a setback. We just want to make sure we don’t overtax him. Hamstrings are tough injuries, and if you pull it again, now you’re looking at another extended period of time.”
Scott Sizemore had successful surgery Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla., for a second repair of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, also performed a repair of a torn meniscus on the same knee. Sizemore is out for the season, and facing another year’s recovery at the minimum.
With Thursday’s off day for travel, the A’s starters will get an extra day of rest. That’s fine with Melvin.
“Especially with the workloads last year with some of our younger guys, whenever we get a chance to give them an extra day we’ll do it,” he said.
It’s been a bit overlooked, but Astros catcher Jason Castro is a Castro Valley native and he’s making his first East Bay appearance as a major leaguer at the Coliseum in this series. He played in San Francisco last year against the Giants.
OAK: CF Crisp, C Jaso, DH Smith, SS Lowrie, LF Young, RF Reddick, 3B Donaldson, 1B Peterson, 2B Sogard. RHP Griffin
HOU: 2B Altuve, CF Maxwell, C Castro, DH Carter, 1B Pena, LF Martinez, RF Ankiel, 3B Dominguez, SS Gonzalez.