OAKLAND -- Manager Bob Melvin said a few days ago the A’s were still looking for a No. 2 hitter to emerge from their lineup. For the third consecutive day, it’s Mark Canha in that spot and against a right-handed starter -- Felix Hernandez, no less. Canha is 8-for-20 (.400) with six RBIs in his first four games.
"Maybe we play a hot hand there," Melvin said of the second spot. "It depends on who we have in the lineup that day -- we feel like we have any number of guys. But (Canha) deserves to be hitting there right now."
The A’s also welcome Josh Reddick back to the lineup today. The right fielder missed the first week of the season recovering from an oblique strain, but said this morning he hasn’t felt any lingering effects from the injury and his side "feels fantastic."
Reddick played in only two rehab games at High-A Stockton, but he had previous at-bats in simulated games and minor-league camp and said he thinks that was enough to get his timing back and swing up to speed.
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"I hit balls all over the field those two days," Reddick said. "I worked some good counts, took some good swings on balls and hit quite a few balls hard."
"He got the number of at-bats that we’re comfortable with," Melvin said. "We’ll start him down in the lineup … and move him up once he gets comfortable."
Reddick is batting eighth today against Hernandez, the Mariners right-hander who in his career against the A’s is 19-7 with a 2.58 ERA, including a 10-2 record and 2.62 ERA at the Coliseum. The A’s have faced Hernandez frequently on opening day in recent years, but managed to miss him this season while opening against Texas -- only Reddick wasn’t so lucky.
"That’s been my opening day for three years in a row," Reddick said. "So why change it now?"
* The full A’s lineup against Hernandez:
And the Mariners’ lineup against A’s right-hander Jesse Hahn:
* The A’s optioned Tyler Ladendorf to Triple-A Nashville to clear a spot for Reddick. Ladendorf’s first major-league stint was brief: He played in four games, went 2-for-10 with two RBIs and scored three runs, picked up his first big-league hit with an RBI triple and left an impression on the staff in Oakland.
"He was instrumental in the games he was a part of," Melvin said. "He’s versatile, can play multiple positions. We feel like he’s one of our guys now, he’s just not here right now."
Melvin has used that designation before for players who shuttle between Triple-A and Oakland. If the A’s lose an infielder for any stretch of time, Ladendorf should be back.
* This isn’t necessarily surprising, but Melvin said it’s likely the A’s will send players to Stockton more often this season if they need just a short rehab assignment like Reddick. With the Triple-A franchise now in Nashville, and not 90 minutes away in Sacramento, that’s a logistical hassle for a one- or two-game visit. Melvin said it will depend some on the player’s position: Pitchers who need to make multiple rehab outings and therefore will be with a minor-league team longer could be more likely to go to Nashville.
It does raise the question of competition level: In recent years, A’s players could rehab in Sacramento and face Triple-A pitching, a better gauge of how close they are to ready for major-league pitchers. Melvin was asked if that’s a concern with Reddick and said: "We’ll see. He doesn’t seem to think so."
* The A’s are following a win-then-lose pattern to start the year. All three of their wins have been blowouts. They’re facing Felix today. Something will have to give.