Alberto Callaspo sat in the A’s clubhouse Friday morning trying to get the feel of a tan first baseman’s glove. First he pounded the pocket repeatedly with a small bat. Then he did the same with a ball.
Callaspo, who has never played first base in a regular-season game in his eight big-league seasons, started at first for the A’s in their 2-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks after working out there on back fields at the team’s spring complex the past few days.
The veteran passed his first tests neatly, scooping a one-hop throw from third baseman Josh Donaldson and taking a grounder to the bag himself in the first inning, and he handled all of his defensive chances while in the game.
“That was easy today,” Callaspo said. “Let’s see what happens as spring training goes.”
Callaspo, at 5-foot-9, is by no means a prototypical first baseman, but having him as an option there would open up more infield possibilities for the A’s, who value versatility and have used a platoon at first in recent seasons.
Brandon Moss figures to play against right-handed pitchers. Daric Barton is another left-handed hitter, with Nate Freiman the lone right-handed first baseman in camp. Callaspo, though, is a switch hitter and also can play second and third base.
Manager Bob Melvin said Callaspo’s sessions at first have involved former A’s player Scott Hatteberg, who made the transition from catcher to first midway through his career, and that reports have been positive.
“Getting to the bag, the in-between play with a pitcher or the second baseman, knowing where you’re going on cutoffs, relays and bunt plays – those are the things that are a little different for him,” Melvin said. “It takes a little time to where that becomes second nature for you.”
Callaspo said one of the main differences Friday was wearing the bigger first baseman’s glove, which he borrowed from Barton. Barton uses a Rawlings glove while Callaspo prefers a Wilson model, so Callaspo has a new glove on order.
Donaldson said looking across the diamond and seeing Callaspo was a little odd in the beginning. “But after you make the first throw to him, it’s fine.”
Strong debut – Scott Kazmir was efficient in his first Cactus League start, facing 10 hitters in three scoreless innings. He worked fast and threw mostly fastballs, showing good command, which he said was his emphasis for his first spring appearance.
“He’s one of those guys who’s got such good carry on his fastball (that) 92 mph looks like 95 out of his hand,” Melvin said. “Really impressive. That’s what we saw at the end of last year.”
Kazmir opted for a simulated game last weekend over facing an opposing team the first time through the rotation. “It feels like I’m actually contributing now,” he said. “Feels like it took half a spring to get it in, but better late than never.”
A’s notes – Catcher Derek Norris was scratched from Friday’s lineup with back spasms, and Melvin said Norris likely will not be available to play today either.
Giants – Tim Lincecum pitched three strong innings and Hunter Pence homered as San Francisco beat Kansas City 5-0 in Surprise, Ariz.
The two-time National League Cy Young Award winner is coming off his third consecutive losing season. The Giants re-signed him to a two-year, $35 million contract in the offseason.
“Since the contract got finalized, it’s just about focusing on the season and the two years ahead of me,” Lincecum said.
Lincecum allowed two hits in the first inning, including a leadoff double to Norichika Aoki, who was out trying to steal third.
Lincecum’s fastball was mostly in the 89-91-mph range.
“I’m not really too worried about trying to get it up or where it is at,” Lincecum said. “It’s all about placement. I know if I set my sights low in the zone, I’ll be better off.”
Pence hit his home run to center in the sixth off Wade Davis.
Giants non-roster invitee Mark Minicozzi, who played for independent league teams from 2009 to 2011, homered off Jon Rauch in the two-run ninth.