A’s lefty bats come out of exile starting Wednesday

Tuesday night’s game against the Yankees with C.C. Sabathia pitching was the fifth straight game for the A’s against a left-handed starting pitcher.

In the feast-to-famine department, as the schedule currently stands, Oakland will see just one left-handed starter in the next 21 games, including a stretch of 16 consecutive games against right-handed starters.

It could be a time for John Jaso to break a personal record.

“I was thinking about it, and I think my personal record for consecutive games (catching) is like four or five,’’ Jaso said Tuesday before another day on the bench. Derek Norris, known as Dino in the A’s clubhouse, has caught all five starts against lefties.

It’s been a good three weeks for Norris to get at-bats as the starter as the A’s have faced left-handed starters in 12 of their last 18 games. Wednesday night, that all comes to an end. Jaso, a lefty who usually gets starts against right-handers will start the next two games against Yankees’ right-handers Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda, then after lefty Joe Saunders starts for Seattle Friday, the glut of right-handers set to face the A’s starts.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said he can’t remember a time when one of his teams went back and forth between facing most lefties to now facing mostly right-handers.

Of late, the only left-handed Oakland hitter to get regular at-bats has been right fielder Josh Reddick.

“I’ve been telling our lefties they’re going to be returning from exile,’’ Melvin said.

One of those has been Jaso.

“It’s about time for me to get some time in,’’ Jaso said, laughing.

So far this season, the A’s have gotten more offensive production out of Jaso (274, one homer, 15 RBIs) than from Norris ((.193, two homers, 10 RBIs).

But as Melvin said, there hasn’t been the normal ebb and flow between facing right-handers and left-handers that one usually sees, so both men have had trouble getting their swings honed.

It sounds like for Jaso, at least, that is about to change.

Jaso will get most of the at-bats against right-handers, but not all of them.

“It’s important for him to get some at-bats,’’ Melvin said. “Maybe play in in day games after night games. I haven’t been doing that lately with us facing three right-handers in Milwaukee and four lefties in Chicago. But we’ve definitely got to keep Norris in the mix.


–When Ichiro Suzuki first game to the big leagues with Seattle, Lou Piniella  was his manager, the A’s won 116 games and Ichiro was Rookie of the Year and MVP, so Piniella remains one of Ichiro’s favorites.

Another high on Ichiro’s list is the man who replaced the legendary Piniella in Seattle for a couple of years, current A’s manager Bob Melvin.

“How’s Bob doing?’’ Ichiro asked before Tuesday’s game.

Told that the A’s, before two weekend losses in Chicago had been on a roll winning 18 of 21, Ichiro answered his own question.

“He’s doing OK,’’ the Yankee veteran said.


–Two quotes of the day.

Melvin on playing the Yankees: “For everybody in baseball, you have 29 rivals and the Yankees.’’

Josh Donaldson on making the conversion from catcher last spring to potential All-Star third baseman: “Every time I see a foul ball go off (John) Jaso or Dino (Derek Norris), I go, `What was I thinking?’ ’’

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.