Oakland A's

New A’s shortstop Marcus Semien has been a hit in Cactus League

Oakland A’s shortstop Marcus Semien, right, being congratulated by teammate Craig Gentry (3) after hitting a two-run home run on Tuesday, is making quite a fine impression in his first spring training with the A’s.
Oakland A’s shortstop Marcus Semien, right, being congratulated by teammate Craig Gentry (3) after hitting a two-run home run on Tuesday, is making quite a fine impression in his first spring training with the A’s. TNS

Asked about his three-hit day in his Cactus League debut Wednesday, A’s right fielder Josh Reddick said: “It’s no Marcus Semien.”

Semien, the A’s new shortstop, is making quite an early impression. Through two spring games, the Cal product is 5 for 5 with two homers and seven RBIs, and has yet to make an out in six plate appearances.

“I don’t want him to play anymore, I want him to sit where he’s at,” Reddick said. “Then again, if you sit him it’s going to be cooling him off. We just hope he saves some for the season.”

Semien drove in three runs in the A’s 9-2 win over the Giants on Thursday with two singles and a walk. He pulled a two-run single into left field off right-hander Jake Peavy on a two-strike count in the first inning and added an RBI single to center against right-hander Ty Blach in the fourth.

“Has some power, lengthening out a little bit in counts when he’s looking for a certain pitch, and other counts he’s trying to do the right thing, stay up the middle,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s impressive early on here.”

Semien said he was pleased with the adjustment he made in his final at-bat against Blach, when he started to see more off-speed pitches. “I’m just trying to pay attention to how they’re going to attack me,” he said. “I know we play them a little bit this year, so that’s what’s important.”

The A’s hitters have certainly gotten the better of Giants pitching in their first two meetings this spring. Oakland followed its nine-run output in the teams’ opener Tuesday with 17 hits Wednesday, including three by Reddick and two each from Ike Davis and Eric Sogard.

“It just shows that people worked this offseason and came ready to play,” said Davis, the A’s new first baseman. “That’s always a positive for any team.”

Melvin said he’s encouraged by the early approach of his left-handed hitters against left-handed pitching. He also highlighted the fifth-inning home run by Mark Canha – another Cal product, like Melvin and Semien. Canha, trying to make the 25-man roster as a Rule 5 draft pick, homered off Giants closer Santiago Casilla.

“Contributions from the university today,” Melvin said.

Chavez debuts – Right-hander Jesse Chavez said he was surprised to be feeling nervous before his first Cactus League start, but he settled down to throw two scoreless innings, pitching around a two-out walk to Buster Posey and double by Hunter Pence in the first.

Chavez recorded five of his six outs via groundout and said that was an encouraging sign. “Especially early, you want to be down in the zone,” he said. “It was a big help and eye-opener for me to know that even though I was nervous I was able to get results.”

The A’s have several rotation spots up for grabs this spring, and Chavez said his goal is to win that role back.

“It’s something personal you want to do as a competitor,” Chavez said.

Et cetera – Left-hander Barry Zito will make his first outing for a big-league team in a year and a half Thursday when the A’s play the Chicago Cubs. Zito, who last pitched for the Giants at the end of the 2013 season and is in the A’s camp as a non-roster invitee, is slated to start for Oakland at Sloan Park at 12:05 p.m. PT.

▪ Melvin said right-hander Kendall Graveman, acquired in the Josh Donaldson trade with Toronto, will start Friday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Right-hander Chris Bassitt, who came to Oakland from the Chicago White Sox in the Jeff Samardzija deal, is scheduled to start Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels.

▪ A’s Radio play-by-play announcer Ken Korach said in a letter to reporters that he may not be able to call early Cactus League games because he is recovering from a significant left knee injury. Korach, who had a knee replacement in 2012, hopes to return soon.

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