A's report: Playoff experience is key to A's success
If Yoenis Cespedes can’t play left field by Game 1 on Friday, he'll serve as DH with Brandon Moss in left. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Eric Sogard will get the Game 1 start at second base. (AP)
OAKLAND -- A’s manager Bob Melvin expressed optimism that Yoenis Cespedes will be able to play left field in Friday’s Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
Cespedes was relegated to designated hitter over the final two weeks of the regular season due to right shoulder tendinitis, and he sat out the final two games of the season after aggravating the shoulder swinging.
He has taken batting practice during this week’s workouts and played catch Thursday, and Melvin said there’s “a good chance” Cespedes is in Friday’s lineup in left. But the manager cautioned that’s no sure thing.
“I just want to see how he comes in tomorrow,” Melvin said. “We’d like to have him in left, and his defense is a factor for us.”
If Cespedes can’t play left field, he will serve as DH with Brandon Moss in left, Melvin confirmed. Moss will be the DH if Cespedes is in left field. In either case, that points to Daric Barton starting at first base in Game 1 against Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer.
Melvin also confirmed that Eric Sogard will start at second base Friday over Alberto Callaspo.
What a difference a year makes.
Sogard was a spectator in last year’s playoffs after back problems, and then an ankle injury suffered on a rehab assignment, sidelined him in early August through the rest of the season.
“It was exciting to see what the team was doing, but obviously I felt kind of left out,” Sogard said. “This year, being out there for the final out when we clinched, and preparing now for the postseason, is really exciting for me.”
Sogard entered this season having played in just 68 big league games spread over three seasons. He arrived at spring training as one of several candidates competing for the second base job. But Scott Sizemore suffered a season-ending knee injury in early April and Jed Lowrie wound up settling at shortstop.
Sogard hit .266 with two homers and 35 RBI in 130 games this season, starting against right-handed pitchers. He platooned with Adam Rosales early in the season and then with Alberto Callaspo after the latter was acquired from the Angels before the trading deadline.
It’s possible Callaspo draws starts at second base during the ALDS, but Melvin said he also envisions the switch hitter as a good piece to use off the bench.
Jhonny Peralta, who was suspended for 50 games in the second half for using performance-enhancing drugs, will be on the Tigers’ ALDS roster, according to Detroit manager Jim Leyland. With Jose Iglesias having settled in at shortstop, Peralta’s best chance at playing time likely will be in left field.
But Leyland said Andy Dirks will start in left field for Game 1 against A’s right-hander Bartolo Colon.
Former A’s outfielder Dave Henderson will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Friday.