Callaspo would rather be in the field, but he’s a force as DH

Alberto Callaspo getting used to DH role

Alberto Callaspo getting used to DH role

Alberto Callaspo made his fifth start as the A’s designated hitter Saturday in Safeco Field.

To say that’s a bid odd completely understates the case. Callaspo came into the season with 869 career big league games played, and in only 11 of them had he been the DH.

And the A’s knew who their DH was going to be – Brandon Moss, unless he was playing first base and the other first baseman, Daric Barton, got the call.

But Barton hasn’t hit, just two hits in 20 at-bats (.100), and so a one-game experiment last week that had Callaspo filling in at DH has turned into a full-time job, at least for the moment.

As manager Bob Melvin says, “right now, he’s our best hitter.’’

Callaspo came into Saturday with a .412 average as the DH and a .409 average overall. Then he doubled in his first at-bat.

“In other years, I might be the DH one or two times a season, so this is much different,’’ Callaspo said before Saturday’s game. “It was never like this year.’’

An infielder by trade, Callaspo is the A’s backup at second and third and, as a switch-hitter, is the club’s right-handed hitting first baseman when Oakland faces a left-handed starting pitching. None of this prepared him for his new role.

So he’s finding things out as he goes.

In between innings he goes to the batting cage and takes some swing to loosen up – but not too many.

“I’ll hit off a tee, but I don’t want my arms to get tired, so not more than five swings, maybe 10,’’ he said. “Just enough to keep loose.’’

Callaspo isn’t all that interested in pursuing DH duty as a regular thing. But as it seems to be in his immediate future, he’s trying to figure out what works for him.

“I want to be in the field,’’ he said. “I’ve told (Melvin) that he wants me anywhere in the field, I will play anywhere.’’

There will come a time when Callaspo will be in the field. Monday and Wednesday the A’s are scheduled to play left-handers when the visit the Angels in Anaheim. He’ll be at first base then. On Sunday and Tuesday, though, odds are he’ll be the DH.

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.