Feb. 20, 2011
URBAN ARCHIVEA'S PAGE A'S VIDEOMychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com
PHOENIX -- Sunday was reporting day for position players at A's camp, but there weren't many position players to be found at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.That's just how Oakland manager Bob Geren had hoped it would be. Most of the team's position players have been at camp and working out daily, some arriving even before pitchers and catchers reported, so Geren "strongly suggested" to them that they stay away Sunday and rest up for Monday's first full-squad workout."I didn't tell them they couldn't come," Geren said. "But a lot of these guys have been working out every day, and I thought it would be a good idea for them to take advantage of what might be their last day off for a long time. The majority of them listened."BRADEN'S PET LIZARD
One of the handful of position players who was on hand was Hideki Matsui, and resident clubhouse clown Dallas Braden came up with a unique way to welcome him to the clubhouse.Playing off Matsui's nickname, Braden dressed a blow-up doll of Godzilla -- he said he bought it online -- in an A's jersey and cap, with a jock strap and white shoes, and had it waiting in front of the Japanese superstar's locker when he arrived."I got tired of waiting for the real Godzilla to get here, so I went out and got my own," Braden said.Matsui displayed a deft comic touch when he saw the creature, remaining silent and stoic just long enough to make everyone in on the joke wonder if they'd made a big mistake."There was a moment there," Geren said, "when we didn't know if he thought it was funny."Only then did Matsui break into a smile, allowing his deferential young new teammate to breathe again.MORE GODZILLA
Surrounded by the large crowd of Japanese media assigned to the Matsui beat, Geren said Matsui will bat fourth or fifth in the lineup, depending on who bats second and third.It's more likely to be fifth, because the second and third spots are almost sure to be occupied by Daric Barton and David DeJesus, though not necessarily in that order. The order doesn't much matter because Barton and DeJesus are left-handed hitters, as is Matsui, and Geren is a big fan of going left-right-left in the order as much as possible.Josh Willingham, a right-handed hitter, might have the best pure power on the team anyway, so he's a natural fit at cleanup.Matsui was signed to be Oakand's full-time DH, but on Saturday he said he hoped to play in the outfield some this spring, and Geren likes the idea of Matsui keeping his defensive skills from rusting up entirely. Matsui has appeared in 18 games as an outfielder since the end of the 2008 season.FINISH WITH A FLOURISH
The A's timed their workout perfectly, with the last pitch of the last scheduled bullpen session being delivered about 10 seconds before the darkish sky finally delivered on its morning-long threat.The pitcher who wrapped things up was right-hander Fautino De Los Santos, a tantalizingly talented 25-year-old who has a fastball that's been clocked in triple digits."Gasolina," Geren said to bench coach Joel Skinner as they watched De Los Santos unleash a series of punishing fastballs.Acquired in the trade that sent Nick Swisher to the White Sox before the 2008 season, De Los Santos is a converted starter who hasn't played above Double-A ball, but as soon as he shows he can harness his electric stuff and dramatically improve upon his 2010 average of 4.5 walks per nine innings, he'll be on the fast track for a job in the big-league bullpen.