The first base puzzle is officially coming together for the Oakland A’s.
Manager Bob Melvin told reporters Tuesday morning that switch-hitting Alberto Callaspo will play first base against left-handed starting pitchers. With signs pointing toward the A’s keeping just two catchers, John Jaso and Derek Norris, it means Daric Barton is likely to make the Opening Night roster and split first base with Brandon Moss against right-handed pitchers. Moss likely will see lots of time at designated hitter as well when Barton plays first.
Callaspo, a utility infielder who played mostly second base last season for Oakland, has been playing first base this spring for the first time in his career. He admittedly was unsure of the idea early in camp, but infield coach Mike Gallego has worked with him extensively at the position. Callaspo obviously has picked it up well enough for the A’s to feel comfortable playing him there in a platoon.
If the A’s indeed keep just two catchers -- with the left-handed hitting Jaso starting against right-handed pitchers and Norris facing lefties -- it means Stephen Vogt will be ticketed for Triple-A Sacramento. Vogt is hitting .357 in exhibitions with three homers and 12 RBI, which is tied for the team lead.
The A’s must trim down to their final 25-man roster this weekend.
In other news, Melvin said Dan Straily and Tommy Milone will both pitch in Saturday’s exhibition finale against the Giants at the Coliseum. Straily and Milone enter the season as the fourth and fifth starters, respectively, in the A’s rotation.
Throwing them Saturday will give both enough work to stay sharp for their first regular-season starts. Straily is scheduled to pitch April 3 against the Seattle Mariners and Milone on April 4. Sonny Gray takes the ball in Monday’s season opener against Cleveland, with Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez scheduled to start the final two matchups of that three-game series.
The Indians have three right-handers scheduled to face the A’s in that first series -- Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister.