Melvin settles on Matsui as No. 3 hitter in order

CHICAGO -- A's manager Bob Melvin is using this four-game series against the Chicago White Sox to experiment with personnel, but he's settled on one big decision.

He wants designated hitter Hideki Matsui as his regular No. 3 hitter, a nod of confidence to a player who has largely struggled in his first season in Oakland.

"In the three spot, if you keep running guys in and out of there, or guys that aren't playing every day, psychologically it might play into, 'Well, maybe we're not as good offensively as we think we are,' " Melvin said before Saturday's 3-2 loss to Chicago. "I'd like to have a little more of a set lineup, especially in the middle, and rely on those guys and have confidence in those guys."

Melvin's most drastic departure so far from his predecessor, Bob Geren, is his desire to make Matsui a focal point of the lineup despite the fact the veteran is hitting just .219 with four homers and 23 RBIs.

Matsui has gone 4 for 10 with a home run and four RBIs since Melvin took over for Geren, who was fired Thursday.

Conor Jackson and David DeJesus have seen the most at-bats in the third spot, with Ryan Sweeney and Josh Willingham also drawing starts there.

Entering Saturday, the A's had gotten a .241 batting average and just two homers and 28 RBIs from the No. 3 position in 65 games.


Advertisement

  • DeJesus was out of the lineup for a second straight day. Though Melvin said DeJesus would start in right field Sunday, Melvin added that position provides his biggest challenge in dividing up playing time among DeJesus, Jackson and Sweeney. After also sitting Friday, DeJesus, hitting just .242, admitted he was surprised not to be back in there. "I came to the park, got my work in, and when he uses me, I'll be ready," DeJesus said. Melvin said he'd have a better idea of players' roles after this weekend.

  • A prolonged shoulder injury has sidetracked the career of right-hander James Simmons, the A's first-round draft pick in 2007. Simmons hasn't appeared in a game since 2009. But he's progressing well at extended spring training, according to A's director of player development Keith Lieppman. Simmons is likely to join the A's Phoenix-based rookie league team at some point.

    -- JOE STIGLICH