Royals-A's: What to watch for

April 9, 2012, 11:39 pm
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SAN FRANCICSO -- After four games against the Seattle Mariners spanning two continents to open the season, the Oakland A's get a crack at a different major league opponent in the Kansas City Royals.The 1-3 A's host the 2-1 Royals for three games at the Oakland Coliseum, starting Monday night with Tommy Milone starting opposite Luis Mendoza. Tuesday's game will match up Graham Godfrey against Danny Duffy, while Brandon McCarthy and Bruce Chen will start in Wednesday's finale.But the pitching matchups will take a back seat to A's rookie sensation Yoenis Cespedes, who has introduced himself to the big leagues with prodigous power.Cespedes, a Cuban defector who signed a four-year deal worth 36 million to come to Oakland, has hit three home runs in his first four games, including towering shots in both A's losses to the Mariners on Friday and Saturday.The bomb he hit Friday traveled an estimated 462 feet, the longest home run at the Coliseum since 2006, when began measuring distances.Cespedes is just the third player in major league history since 1920 to hit a home run in three of his first four career games. With a home run Monday, Cespedes would join Jimmie Foxx (1932) as the only player in A's franchise history to hit four home runs in the season's first five games.Another A's hitter to keep an eye on is leadoff man Jemile Weeks, who is hitting just .222 so far, but killed the Royals last season. Weeks, who hit his first home run of the season Saturday, had four doubles, a triple and six RBIS in six games against Kansas City in his rookie year. He hit safely in all six contests for a .462 average.Weeks led American League rookies with his .303 average last season, just ahead of Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who hit .293. Hosmer is off to a fast start to 2012, with two home runs in three games, and is a fan of facing the A's. In eight games against Oakland last season, the third overall pick in 2008 hit .355 with a home run, three doubles, five RBIs, four walks and two steals. Hosmer's major league debut came against the A's on May 6, 2011.While Hosmer's bat is hot out of the gate, his teammate Alex Gordon is a major-league leader in the wrong type of category. Gordon has the most at-bats (13) without a hit so far this season. He is not in manager Ned Yost's lineup for Monday, replaced in the leadoff spot and in left field by Jason Bourgeois.A new name in the A's lineup is first baseman Daric Barton, reinstated from the disabled list on Monday. Barton was activated a day after hitting a grand slam for the A's Triple-A affiliate. Barton hit just .212 with no home runs and 21 RBIs in 67 games last season, but figures to be Bob Melvin's regular first baseman moving forward, especially now that the club has designated Brandon Allen for assignment.
Rael Enteen is a web producer with Follow him on Twitter @RaelEnteenCSN.