PHOENIX -- Fans who showed up Friday to watch Manny Ramirez in his A's debut did not get a long look.
Ramirez saw only three pitches in his two at-bats, grounding sharply into a double play and bouncing out softly to second in the A's 8-5 loss to the Seattle Mariners in the Cactus League opener for both teams.
He batted cleanup but was replaced at designated hitter by Jonny Gomes in the bottom of the sixth. It marked Ramirez's first major league game since he retired early last season while with the Tampa Bay Rays.
What did the aging slugger glean from his brief work day?
"I did great. I made contact," he said jokingly in the clubhouse after leaving the game. "I thought it was going to be worse. At least I was seeing the ball pretty good. I was excited, looking forward to my first at-bat."
Ramirez, who joined the A's on a minor league deal Feb. 20, said his first week with the team went well. His gives his new uniform the thumbs-up.
"My friends are calling me, 'Manny you look so good in green!' " he said.
Ramirez received a mix of boos and cheers from the announced crowd of 6,316 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium as he dug in for his first at-bat against Blake Beavan in the bottom of the first. He made solid contact on the second pitch he saw but hit into a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
He batted again in the fourth and bounced the first pitch he saw to second.
But just his name on the
"It was exciting," infielder Eric Sogard said. "He's one of the greatest hitters of all time."
Then, in a smiling acknowledgment of Ramirez's reputation for being a non-hustler, Sogard added: "It was great to see him out there hustling down the line, too. We love it."
As the A's prepare for their early season opener March 28 against the Mariners in Tokyo, they face an odd situation with Ramirez.
He will miss the first 50 regular-season games while serving a suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy. The A's will keep him at extended spring training in Phoenix for the first 40 games of the suspension.
Ramirez can work out with the major league club during that time, and the A's plan to bring him to Oakland periodically.
He becomes eligible for the season May 30, the day he turns 40. He can play in a 10-game rehab assignment leading up to that, likely to be split between Single-A Stockton and Triple-A Sacramento. Both have staggered homestands in the days leading to his reinstatement.
Though Gomes will serve as designated hitter Saturday, manager Bob Melvin said Ramirez will start Sunday against the Chicago Cubs and will play on Monday's split-squad day, either against the Los Angeles Angels in Phoenix or against the Cubs in Mesa.
"We'll try to get him some consistent at-bats here early on, just to see how he's swinging and get an early read on him," Melvin said.
But the A's need to evaluate other D.H. candidates, too -- the ones Melvin will have at his disposal when the season starts. That group includes Gomes, Chris Carter, Brandon Allen, Kila Ka'aihue and Seth Smith.
"We know which guys we need to give more at-bats to," Melvin said. "We're out of here on the 22nd (to travel to Tokyo). You'd like to get 'X' amount of plate appearances for guys. We're going to be a little bit short of that, but we understand where we are."
In Friday's game, with a strong wind blowing toward right field, the A's served up five homers to the Mariners, with whom they will get quite familiar in the coming weeks.
The teams play again Saturday in Peoria, and the A's host the Mariners in another exhibition March 16. They open the season against each other with a two-game series in Tokyo on March 28-29, and they resume the season with a two-game set at O.co Coliseum on April 6-7.
"By the time we're done with them in early April, we'll be sick of them and they'll be sick of us," Melvin said.