MESA, Ariz. – Two hitters went deep in the A’s intrasquad game Sunday – one who’s part of the future and one who’s very much about the present.
New second baseman Ben Zobrist cleared the right field wall with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first off right-hander Arnold Leon. Then first baseman Matt Olson, Oakland’s top-ranked prospect according to mlb.com, hit a monster shot to right off Deck McGuire in the bottom of the third.
“I think he knocked the ‘L’ off the ‘Lew Wolff Training Facility’ sign,” manager Bob Melvin said of Olson’s blast.
Those were the standout moments from a 4 ½ inning contest that was more like a simulated game. Pitchers weren’t allowed to face a new batter if they had exceeded 20 pitches – the inning simply ended at that point.
But the intrasquad games played Saturday and Sunday are the closest the A’s have gotten to competitive game scenarios in advance of Tuesday’s exhibition opener against the Giants.
“It makes you feel a little bit better when the cage is gone and you’re facing some pitchers,” Melvin said. “Even though it’s more a simulated game than anything else, it makes it a little more fun.”
Zobrist played left field Sunday after patrolling second base Saturday. Olson’s homer came after he lost a ball in the sun on defense, and Melvin liked the fact he shook off that play and came through at the plate.
CAMP BATTLE: Outfielder Alex Hassan, claimed off waivers Friday from Baltimore, played right field and drew two walks.
“Fits right in here,” Melvin said.
Hassan said he feels most comfortable in left and right field, but he also played first base over the past two seasons while in the Boston Red Sox’s system. It’s tough to see him cracking the 25-man roster as things stand, but expect him to get lots of innings early in exhibitions with the A’s planning to be cautious with Coco Crisp’s playing time.
LIGHTER SIDE: After claiming that he’s not a big fan of mobile games on his phone, Melvin joked that he’s hooked on the app that Crisp created, “Coco’s Fro Patrol.” The game features Crisp as the main character, and the goal is to run back and forth catching baseballs with his hair as they fall from the sky.
“Has anybody downloaded his game?” Melvin asked reporters. “It’s actually a pretty good game. I was addicted to it last night. I’m up to 16 innings and 598 balls I’ve caught. … You catch the balls in Coco’s fro!”
[RELATED: Crisp dealing with pinkeye again]
QUOTABLE: Hassan attended Duke, meaning the A’s now have three Blue Devils in camp. First baseman Nate Freiman and reliever Dan Otero also went there. “I don’t know if it’s the best strategy because we weren’t that good,” Hassan said.
ODDS AND ENDS: Sonny Gray, who wore eye glasses in his previous bullpen session because of a left eye irritation, threw off the mound Sunday wearing his contacts as usual. Gray described the irritation as similar to a stye, and to help with the healing, he’s been holding a hot potato wrapped in a towel up to his eye. … The A’s have a short workout planned Monday in advance of Tuesday’s Cactus League opener against the Giants at Hohokam Stadium. If it rains Monday, and the forecast calls for it, Melvin said the team will likely do some indoor work. … First baseman/outfielder Mark Canha left the intrasquad game after being hit by a pitch, but Melvin said it was nothing serious and that Canha was scheduled to only play a couple of innings anyway.