Oakland A's

Jim Harbaugh enjoys his day with the Oakland A’s

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh, right, talks with Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin (6) before a spring training baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Mesa, Ariz.
Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh, right, talks with Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin (6) before a spring training baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/ Darron Cummings)

MESA, Ariz. -- A’s manager Bob Melvin said Saturday morning that Jim Harbaugh, his guest in camp for the day, might coach first base for "a couple innings" in the A’s game against the Los Angeles Angels.

Harbaugh took over the coaching box in the bottom of the third inning -- and he was still manning it when Renato Nunez’s bases-loaded infield hit gave the A’s a walk-off 8-7 win over the Angels in the bottom of the ninth.

"He had as much fun as anybody here," Melvin said afterward. "We gave him the option; if we’d have gone 15 (innings) he probably would’ve stayed out there."

Harbaugh stayed a little longer, too, signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans down the first-base line. He also scored an autograph of his own -- outfielder Coco Crisp, who regularly wears No. 4, signed Harbaugh’s No. 4 jersey and his cap.

"I was getting more and more comfortable," Harbaugh said of his brief baseball coaching stint. "It was great to be around these guys. Great group of guys. Only go see the best."

Melvin said Harbaugh’s presence in camp was a one-day thing before he resumes spring duties as the head football coach at Michigan. But Harbaugh said he’ll take something of the experience with him -- he watched Melvin running infield drills before the game and said, "I see some football applications to it … The organization was impressive."

Harbaugh’s presence seemed well-received by fans. Some chanted his name during the game, and a few even shouted for Melvin to let him hit during the A’s ninth-inning rally. Some players tweeted out pictures of themselves in the dugout with Harbaugh, including pitcher Chad Smith, who was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and wrote: "Michigan Football will be very good soon."

Less excited by that prospect was the A’s starting pitcher Saturday, right-hander Chris Bassitt.

"I’m an Ohio State fan, so I’ll say that," said Bassitt, who hails from Toledo. "I mean, that’s awesome, to see him here, that’s absolutely awesome. But I’m going to have to give him an ‘O-H’ before I leave."

Bassitt, though, later posted this to his Twitter page: "Ok @CoachJim4UM …. You can stay around. Forget *ichigan…. Walk off win! 1-0 baseball coaching career."

* Bassitt made quick work of his first spring start, allowing one hit in two scoreless innings. He retired his first five hitters before allowing a single to the Angels’ Efren Navarro, who was then thrown out by Josh Phegley trying to steal second.

"I thought he was really good," Melvin said. "He was down in the zone, ball’s moving all over the place … Mixed in his breaking ball just enough to keep you off-balance, but he’s got the type of sinker that, because of his height, if it’s down in the zone, it’s tough to get in the air, period."

Bassitt, a candidate for the starting rotation, said it was "nerve-wracking" making his first start for the A’s, but he was happy with the results. He said his emphasis this season is on not giving away baserunners -- "If I don’t walk anyone I really feel like I like the odds" -- and that he makes an effort to work quickly, as he did Saturday.

"For sinkerballers, that’s the right thing to do," Melvin said. "You keep your infielders on their toes. You try to get (hitters) to put the ball in play, and to work quickly really helps out the infielders make plays for you."

Bassitt also raved about Phegley, with whom he came up in the White Sox system before both were traded to Oakland in the Jeff Samardzija deal.

"He’s one of the best defensive catchers I’ve ever played with, and that’s not just saying that -- I really mean that," Bassitt said. "He works on his craft very hard and he has been gifted with a very, very good arm. Not only will this team realize that quickly, but all the other teams that we play will realize that really quickly."

* It was a good day for some of the A’s minor leaguers, who led the comeback after the team fell behind 6-1 in the sixth. Melvin highlighted infielder Max Muncy, who drove in two runs with a hit and a walk, and Renato Nunez, who Nunez, who got the walk-off hit after Tyler Ladendorf tied it in the ninth with an RBI triple.

"For a kid that just turned 20 years old," Melvin said of Nunez, "that’s exciting for him."

Shortstop Marcus Semien went hitless in two at-bats, so he is human. Semien also made a throwing error on a routine chopper but showed his range on a couple of plays, something Melvin commented on after the game.

"I was trying to hit him ground balls today (in drills), he wanted me to hit them to his left, up the middle where he had to go get them and I couldn’t hit them far enough to his left," Melvin said. "He’s got a ton of range. On top of that, he’s a hard-working kid and wants to get better."

* Melvin had a positive injury update after the game: Stephen Vogt, who is coming back from offseason foot surgery, will make his spring debut at catcher on Monday. Vogt was originally going to be eased into games first as a DH, but Melvin said he has been cleared to catch.

That comes on the heels of this morning’s news that Josh Reddick will be shut down for two weeks with an oblique strain and could miss opening day, which you can read here.

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

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