PHOENIX -- The A's always had mid-March circled on their calendar for Daric Barton's return to first base. So considering his debut at the position came Saturday, 17 days into the month, Barton is seemingly right on schedule.
But how his schedule pairs with the A's, who depart for Japan on Thursday, is significant. Manager Bob Melvin would like to see Barton play several games in a row before deciphering his readiness for the overseas trip, which might not even be possible.
"I don't know, at this point," Melvin said. "It's difficult, based on him not being able to play the field too many days. But he had a nice start today."
Barton didn't see much action at first base, but at the plate he went 2-for-2 with a double and a walk in the team's 7-2 loss to the Giants.
"He looked good," Melvin said. "He didn't really have any plays of significance defensively, but he looked comfortable out there. He swung the bat well today."
Barton will serve as the designated hitter in Sunday's game against Arizona, while Kila Ka'aihue gets the start at first base. Ka'aihue has tallied 23 at-bats this spring, and fellow first-base contender Brandon Allen has collected 26. Both might not see many more in the coming days, as Melvin attempts to help Barton catch up.
Crisp 'shakes' things up in A's commercials
PHOENIX -- Shake weights have always made for good commercials. Coco Crisp makes them even better.
The A's outfielder is tasked with handling two of them in one of seven of the club's 2012 television commercials -- this one promptly called "Shake Weight," which highlights the switch-hitting trio of Crisp, Cliff Pennington and Jemile Weeks practicing everything from both the right and left sides.
This year's version of the award-winning "Green Collar Baseball" campaign, in its third season, also features Dallas Braden showing off his Rollie Fingers tattoo to the A's pitching legend himself, and battery mates Brandon McCarthy and Kurt Suzuki in couples therapy -- an ode to their commitment to maintaining chemistry, with McCarthy confessing, "Sometimes when I'm on the mound, I feel like he's thinking about different pitchers."
"It's been well-received each year, so we wanted to keep it going, but we wanted to freshen it up a little bit," said DJ O'Neill, the founder and CEO of Hub Strategy, which is responsible for the advertising campaign. "It's been real interesting to work with these guys, and I think this year was maybe the most fun. The guys are really fun. The overarching theme is that all these guys want to do really well. These guys are competitors."
The A's 2011 campaign won Best Television and Best Social Media at the 2012 National Sports Forum ADchievement Awards, considered the most recognized advertising competition in the sports industry.
A's lefty Brett Anderson, on the road to recovery from Tommy John surgery, threw a 35-pitch bullpen on Saturday, mixing in changeups for the first time. A team official said he came out of the session fine.
Yoenis Cespedes, making a start in center field against the Cubs on Sunday, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, upping his spring strikeout total to six in 16 at-bats.
Bench coach Chip Hale, managing the club's home team Sunday, said it's too early to worry about Cespedes' production and noted that "he knows what he's swinging at, and he's not swinging wildly."