OAKLAND -- The Oakland Athletics are in a rut. They've lost six of their last seven games, are 4-8 since their nine-game winning streak, and 2-8 against teams not in their division.
What better way to try and snap them out of it than to shake things up a bit. The A's skipper has overhauled the lineup, and tweaked the defense. In hopes of exploiting the match ups against Orioles left handed pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, the A's have all of their right-handed hitters starting the game.
Lowrie moves to second base
Jed Lowrie will start at second base in another minor modification. All of his starts have come at shortstop this season. The versatile infielder has experience playing first, second, third and shortstop at the big league level. As Melvin often says, Lowrie's versatility will work against him at times.
"That's what they are asking me to do," Lowrie said. "A little bit out of the blue, I spoke to Bob (Melvin) about it yesterday, but didn't really expect it today."
Lowrie noted that the transition from shortstop to second base is less difficult than moving to third base.
In other defensive changes, Adam Rosales will play shortstop in his first start with the A's this season after returning from the disabled list on Thursday. Coco Crisp will be the designated hitter with Casper Wells making his first start, and manning center field.
Wells' time to shine
Wells is 2-4 with a home run in his career against Chen. He could be the A's key to solving Chen, who is 2-0 with a 0.71 ERA in two career starts against the A's. Wells needs to make a strong impression fast, because injured outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is eligible to return on Sunday.
"There's definitely butterflies after not playing for a while," Wells said. "You have to use the energy and hone that and go out there relaxed and let your abilities take over."
Cespedes getting closer
Cespedes went 1 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored in his first rehab appearance since injuring his left hand on April 12. He batted third and was the designated hitter for the Sacramento River Cats. He is expected to play in left field on Friday night in Sacramento.
"He will play in the field tonight," Melvin said. "If everything goes well there, DH the next day, and then hopefully on Sunday we are in a position to activate him."
Lowrie has been batting cleanup for the A's in Cespedes' absence, but is happy to move back to the second spot in the order when the Cuban slugger returns.
"I look forward to it just to get him back in the lineup, not necessarily where I hit," Lowrie said. "He's certainly more of a prototypical four hitter than I am."
Don't call me captain, Bob
The A's skipper said he is very excited to have the captain of the A's early 70s teams, Sal Bando, in the house. The A's skipper wears Bando's No. 6 in tribute to him. Melvin joked that if someone called him captain, he'd probably correct him, because that's exclusively for Bando.
"He was nice enough to come out in spring training for us a couple of times to," Melvin said. "I actually got to go out to dinner with him. He gave me my first non playing job in baseball, there's a lot of things Sal Bando has done to not only enhance my career but be a resource for me."
The A's will be having a ceremony honoring the 40th anniversary of the Oakland Athletics 1973 World Championship on Friday and Saturday. During a special ceremony on the field on Saturday, Melvin teased that the current A's team will be honoring them.