MESA, Ariz. -- Nothing like digging into the batter’s box in the spring’s first exhibition and seeing Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner staring back at you.
That’s who the A’s draw for Tuesday’s Cactus League opener, which will serve as the grand opening of renovated Hohokam Stadium as their new spring home.
“He just finished pitching like a week ago, didn’t he?” A’s manager Bob Melvin quipped, in reference to Bumgarner’s MVP performance in the World Series.
Bumgarner only figures to pitch a couple of innings at most Tuesday, but it gives Melvin an early chance to experiment with a righty-dominated batting order. Sam Fuld is the only pure left-handed hitter featured in Oakland’s lineup for the first game.
The starting nine (and batting order) that will play behind starting pitcher Brad Mills:
1. Craig Gentry RF
2. Marcus Semien SS
3. Ben Zobrist 2B
4. Billy Butler 1B
5. Brett Lawrie 3B
6. Nate Freiman DH
7. Mark Canha LF
8. Josh Phegley C
9. Sam Fuld CF
Melvin wasn’t revealing much about his thoughts for a regular-season batting order, saying he would use the exhibition season to help settle some of the question marks. Center fielder Coco Crisp is a lock in the leadoff spot, and Melvin did mention a handful of players who could potentially fit as the No. 2 hitter -- including Fuld or Gentry (depending which is starting on a given day), Lawrie, Zobrist and Semien.
Regarding Tuesday’s batting order, Melvin said he “wadded up three different pieces of paper today to get the right lineup.” But don’t read too much into Tuesday’s look, given that Crisp will likely to sit out the first few exhibitions and with the 25-man roster not yet settled. However, the 3-4-5 combo of Zobrist, Butler and Lawrie certainly seems like a realistic look against opposing left-handers.
Melvin is playing it close to the vest on who his closer will be until Sean Doolittle returns, though he says he has “a pretty good idea” of which direction he’s leaning. The early exhibitions aren’t likely to provide much clarity, as late-inning relievers often pitch in the early to middle portion of games in the opening stages of Cactus League play.
“You’re gonna try to get your Clippards and Cooks and Oteros and those guys in the game, a lot of times, right after the starters,” Melvin said. “It’s not until you get to the last couple of weeks of spring that you start to have those guys sitting down there for the entire game and ready to pitch later.”
A good crowd is expected at Hohokam on Tuesday. By the weekend, most of the reserved seating had sold out. Stadium capacity is listed at 10,000. Former A’s shortstop Bert Campaneris will be among those throwing out ceremonial first pitches.