Nakajima creates a fan with post-game gift

Minor league infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima hopes for return to A's

Minor league infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima hopes for return to A’s

You don’t have to have a big league contract to make a big league impression.

Consider the case of A’s minor league infielder Hiro Nakajima. He played the final few innings at second base in the A’s 13-3 win over the Cleveland Indians Wednesday, drawing a walk and popping out.

Once the game was over, there was the usual group of attentive kids, mostly A’s fans from the look of it, behind the dugout looking for autographs from whatever player they could.

Nakajima stripped off his batting gloves and handed him to one of the kids, no doubt creating a fan for life.

There’s no telling when A’s fans may see Nakajima in Oakland, because he’s going to start the season where he ended it last year, playing for Triple-A Sacramento.

But he looked much more confident and self-assured Wednesday, no doubt in part to his two-for-two effort in a game in Glendale Tuesday against the White Sox.

Manager Bob Melvin certainly took notice, not only with the two hits Tuesday but with the way Nakajima handled himself at third base, a relatively new position for him, against the Sox.

   “We’d heard that he was swinging the bat pretty well in minor league camp,’’ Melvin said. “He’s got some little different mechanics. He should feel good.’’

The A’s figure to see Nakajima a few more times this spring, both because he’s playing well and because shortstop Addison Russell was injured.

And that means he has a chance to make an impression, because the A’s at some point will need infield help because of injury or trade, and Nakajima would like to be the man they think of first.

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.