SAN DIEGO – With a few regulars out of the A’s lineup, designated hitter Billy Butler draws a rare start at first base Tuesday against the Padres.
It’s just Butler’s second game at first base this season. He’s filled the DH role in 61 of Oakland’s 66 games and hasn’t been a regular first baseman since early in his career with the Kansas City Royals. But with Stephen Vogt needing a day off for various ailments and third baseman Brett Lawrie’s back acting up, Max Muncy is playing third base with Butler stepping in at first.
Butler, who’s been trying to find his offensive groove in the middle of the A’s lineup, hadn’t started three of the past five games, and manager Bob Melvin wanted to get him back in there.
“It has as much to do with Lawrie being off,” Melvin said. “But we saw him (at first) in the spring, and he was fine over there. He takes ground balls over there every day. For a guy like him, it’s tough having him sit around. It’s actually nice to get him in there.”
Lawrie, who had three hits last night, requires the occasional day off for his back. Vogt has been banged up in general, and last night while catching, he got crossed up on a fastball from Drew Pomeranz and the pitch hit him in the side of the head and jaw, then glanced off his shoulder before hitting home plate umpire Mike DiMuro.
“Hopefully I slowed it down for him,” Vogt cracked.
Shortstop Marcus Semien is also getting a rest Tuesday, with Eric Sogard subbing in.
“I’m looking at the stat pack the other day and he leads the league in games played,” Melvin said. “He probably wishes I didn’t look at it.”
Semien entered Tuesday as one of five players tied for the Major League lead in games played at 65.
Reliever Edward Mujica, on the disabled list since May 22 with a fractured thumb, was with the team Tuesday, a day after he threw a scoreless inning in a rehab outing with Single-A Stockton. He’ll make another minor league appearance, and then Melvin says Mujica could be activated.
The A’s should be getting first baseman Ike Davis back very soon too. Davis, sidelined by a strained left quadriceps, is scheduled to DH Tuesday night for Triple-A Nashville and will rejoin the A’s on Wednesday. Melvin said it’s possible Davis is activated for Wednesday night’s home game against the Padres.