Bay Area Baseball

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October 2, 2013
Cespedes hits in simulated game, still uncertain for Friday

OAKLAND -- A day before the Detroit Tigers arrive in Oakland, the A's held a short workout Wednesday afternoon followed by three simulated innings to get pitchers Dan Straily and Tommy Milone some work against hitters. Straily is slated to start Game 4 for the A's if the series goes that far, while Milone is not on the ALDS roster but remains an option for future series should the A's advance.

One of the hitters they faced was Yoenis Cespedes, who tested his sore right shoulder swinging but again did not play catch. Afterward, through a loose translation from hitting coach Chili Davis, Cespedes said the shoulder felt good and reiterated he intends to play in Games 1 and 2 on Friday and Saturday.

Before the workout, manager Bob Melvin said Cespedes had come out of batting practice Tuesday showing positive signs. "I think he got more and more comfortable as he got into batting practice, he got a little more aggressive with his swings a little bit later," said Melvin. "I think we'll probably wait for (Thursday) with the actual catch out here. He's simulating some stuff in the training room."

If Cespedes cannot play left field Friday, it will be interesting to see how the A's align themselves defensively against right-hander Max Scherzer. Brandon Moss has played some left field and could if Melvin opts to start Daric Barton at first base. There's also the possibility Cespedes' shoulder could open a window for Seth Smith, who started just seven games in September.

"He's the guy that's kind of been the odd man out as far as starts," Melvin acknowledged. In the last six games he did start, though, Smith went 9-for-16. Melvin said there is "no real set deal" for how the A's plan to use Smith against the Tigers, "But one thing you know with Smitty is he'll be prepared."

* Last year, Brett Anderson was sort of the A's wild card going into the ALDS -- when he started Game 3 against the Tigers, he hadn't pitched in two weeks and had made six starts all year. This time, Anderson's role is coming out of the bullpen, but again as a bit of an unknown.

"He is that one guy where there's no set role for him," Melvin said. "He could pitch a couple innings for us, he could match up against a lefty. Based on his starting ability and his weapons against right-handers he could get you through an inning."

Melvin also said he'll have no reservations about bringing Anderson in during the middle of an inning if necessary. After rejoining the A's in late August, Anderson's 10 relief outings ran the gamut in length -- anywhere from one batter faced to three innings -- and situation. He allowed 10 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings in those outings but pitched better in the later ones and said he was getting accustomed to having to be on point immediately upon entering a game.

* Tomorrow's print story focuses on Stephen Vogt, who figures to play a prominent role in this series as the only left-handed-hitting catcher on the A's roster. The Tigers have four right-handers in their starting rotation, and knowing Melvin's penchant for match-ups, Vogt would seem in line for most -- if not all -- of the starts.

"It doesn't mean he's going to start every game, but there's a good chance," Melvin said today. Melvin also reiterated just because Vogt starts a game doesn't mean he'll finish it because of in-game substitutions -- the Tigers do have several left-handed relievers.

It's more of a role, though, than Vogt envisioned himself having at the start of the season, after the Rays traded him to Oakland for cash considerations and the A's optioned him to Triple-A, where he played until June. Vogt reflects on his season in tomorrow's story, but here's Melvin on arguably the most unlikely contributor the A's found this year:

"I like to see anybody emerge that plays well, and he deserved the opportunity based on the way he was hitting in Triple-A," Melvin said. "There was a time he was hitting over .400, we kept looking at the numbers and going, boy, let's take a look at this guy.

"When we had the injuries the opportunity came up for him and he's done a great job for us. He's a grinder, he's a hard worker, he's paid his dues. He's very appreciative of his opportunity here, and he's taken advantage of it."

* One marked difference in this series as opposed to last year's -- if the series goes the distance, it doesn't look like the A's will see Justin Verlander twice. Verlander is slated to start Game 2, with 21-game winner Max Scherzer starting Game 1 and likely in line for the start in a potential Game 5.

Verlander beat the A's twice in last year's ALDS and allowed one run in 16 innings with 22 strikeouts. That included a complete game shutout in Game 5. Recalling that game this week, catcher Derek Norris said of Verlander: "The guy on the mound was determined and he was single-handedly going to carry that team if they put one run on the board. ... You could tell with him, he was going to give it everything he had and he wasn't going to let us anywhere close to home plate. That's how our season ended."

This year, though, Verlander hasn't been quite as dominant as in recent seasons. His 3.46 ERA was his highest since 2008, and while he struck out 217 hitters in 218 1/3 innings, he finished 13-12 -- with the Tigers losing nine of his last 10 starts. So it will be Scherzer in Game 1.

"I think they're probably just going with the guy they think is pitching best," Melvin said. "Each one of those guys are a challenge. So I don't think it affects us one way or the other."

-- 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.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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