Bay Area Baseball

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July 31, 2013
A's, Blue Jays lineups: Callaspo meets the A's, Reddick out

OAKLAND -- Alberto Callaspo, the newest A's infiedler, arrived at the Coliseum a little after 10 a.m. after hopping a flight early this morning from Texas, where the Los Angeles Angels were playing the Rangers. Callaspo said he didn't get much sleep last night after finding out he'd been traded by the Angels, but that he's ready to help the A's however necessary. He's not in the lineup -- Jed Lowrie is at shortstop, Eric Sogard at second base facing right-handed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Callaspo figures to mostly platoon with Sogard at second base and play against lefties -- the role formerly filled by Adam Rosales, who was designated for assignment today to make room for Callaspo on the 25-man roster. As a switch-hitter and versatile defender, manager Bob Melvin said Callaspo may also be used to give Lowrie and Josh Donaldson days off. When Lowrie is off, Sogard will play shortstop and Callaspo will play second. Having played third for Los Angeles the past three seasons, Callaspo can slip in when Donaldson needs a break.

Though most of his playing time should come at a position he hasn't played in the majors since 2010, when he had 12 games at second, Callaspo said he's confident he'll be able to make the transition. That's because it's a return to his natural position. He has played 217 games there in his major-league career.

"There is some uncertainty obviously, because he hasn't played there for a couple years," Melvin said. "But he's always been a sure-handed defender. ... My feeling is once a middle infielder, it's kind of like riding a bike. Hopefully that's the case."

Melvin managed Callaspo for a short time in Arizona and called the 30-year-old "a pretty unique player. ...He can play just about anywhere, switch-hitter, good from both sides of the plate, I think one of the most difficult guys in all of baseball to strike out. You can hit and run with him. There's a lot of things you can do with him. So it's an upgrade for us."

Callaspo has more walks (263) than strikeouts (256) in his eight-year career. This year he was hitting .252 in 86 games for the Angels, including .259 against left-handers (compared to .249 against righties). The bigger split is in OPS -- .733 against lefties, .646 against righties.

Callaspo said he was a little surprised by the trade, but is prepared to "come here and try to keep doing my job, give 100 percent and try to help the team." As for the time that's passed since he last played second, it must feel longer ago than it actually is. Callaspo was asked when the last time he took grounders at second was, and he guessed four or five years -- but stressed he'll get comfortable there again.

"Like they say, if you can play everywhere you can play outfield, infield," he said. "I can play everywhere -- but not catcher, not pitcher. I'll be good with it."

Here's the Callaspo-less lineup that will face Dickey today:

CF Crisp
2B Sogard
SS Lowrie
DH Cespedes
1B Moss
3B Donaldson
LF Smith
RF Young
C Vogt

And the Blue Jays lineup against Bartolo Colon:

SS Reyes
2B Izturis
RF Bautista
DH Encarnacion
1B Lind
CF Rasmus
LF Davis
C Thole
3B Lawrie

* Josh Reddick was scratched from the lineup with a headache after being kneed in the head by Lowrie in the outfield during last night's game. Melvin said it doesn't look like Reddick has a concussion, but he did arrive at the park with a slight headache and with a day off tomorrow Melvin decided to give Reddick two days to fully recover.

* John Jaso, who is on the 7-day concussion DL, is eligible to rejoin the team tomorrow, but Melvin said he hasn't started doing any baseball activities since going on the DL, so that appears unlikely.

* Brett Anderson will throw live batting practice on Friday, the latest step in his recovery from a stress fracture in his right foot. Anderson will face hitters from behind an L-screen and likely get up and down twice, throwing about 15 pitches each time. Melvin said there is still no timetable for when Anderson could rejoin the A's, but the next step would be another live BP session or the beginning of a rehab assignment.

* If Anderson threw a knuckleball, the A's might have been able to use him today. They face Dickey, the reigning N.L. Cy Young winner who's having a tougher season this year in the A.L. East -- he's 8-11 with a 4.86 ERA. Still, Melvin said there's nothing easy about trying to pick up Dickey's signature pitch when seeing it for the first time all year.

"You want to let the ball travel and almost be in two-strike mode all the time," Melvin said. "I myself didn't have much success hitting or catching them. But it's something every team has to deal with."

Few of the current A's have much history against Dickey, and those who do haven't had much success. Coco Crisp has the most at-bats against Dickey -- he's 2-for-11 with three strikeouts. Lowrie, Brandon Moss, Seth Smith and Chris Young -- who was inserted into the lineup for Reddick -- are a combined 3-for-19 against the knuckleballer.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Email: mkawahara@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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