SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Jet-lagged from Japan, the Oakland Athletics arrived at Raley Field on Saturday feeling a bit sluggish. Manager Bob Melvin told reporters he took a nap on the bus ride up to Sacramento as his team traveled to play its Triple-A affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats.
"It was the best sleep I've had since I've been back," Melvin said. "Honest to God."
The players were also feeling the effects of traveling several time zones. Not even 48 hours passed from the time they touched down in the Bay Area on Thursday to Saturday's batting practice. Catcher Kurt Suzuki said he was still affected by the jet lag, while second baseman Jemile Weeks said his Friday consisted of "sleeping, eating and then back to sleep again."
As their bodies recover from the travel, the A's will tune up for a return to the regular season with four exhibition games: Saturday's tilt and then three games with the San Francisco Giants. Though Weeks acknowledged there was a bit of an exhibition feel to the pair of contests against the Seattle Mariners in Tokyo, he said the regular-season intensity was there.
"We had to go out there with the mentality that it was a real game," Weeks said. "We clicked that switch and it became different than Spring Training. But, yeah, it was a weird thing to jump into the season then come back."
Suzuki, Allen OK after exiting exhibition early
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Saturday night's exhibition vs. the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats was marked by a couple of scary moments for the A's, as Kurt Suzuki and Brandon Allen had to leave the game.
Suzuki was hit by a Jarrod Parker pitch on his left arm above the elbow in the first inning and came around to score on an error, but was then replaced by Anthony Recker.
Allen left the game in the fourth inning after a warmup throw bounced off the dirt and hit his face below his right eye.
Manager Bob Melvin said both injuries aren't considered to be serious.
"Suzuki's fine. He wasn't going to catch much anyways," Melvin said. "I just wanted him to catch an inning or two, and then when he got hit, I said, 'I'm not going to mess with that.'"
Allen sported an inch-long cut and some swelling on his right cheek after the game but said the injury wouldn't require stitches. He was 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts and was replaced by Kila Ka'aihue, who is also fighting to become Oakland's everyday first baseman.
"Just an in-between hop," Allen said.
A's report injury setbacks for Braden, Manny
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Dallas Braden and Manny Ramirez have each suffered injury setbacks recently, according to Oakland manager Bob Melvin.
The A's skipper told reporters that Braden strained his shoulder while playing catch after a bullpen session, shortly before the A's left for Japan. Braden made the trip to Sacramento, but it's unclear when he will be able to resume throwing again.
"We're on hold with that right now," Melvin said. "I don't have a timetable for him. The doctors are going to have to tell him when they're comfortable with it."
Braden was originally expected to make a return in early May from last year's season-ending surgery, but the latest setback casts serious doubt on that possibility.
Melvin said Ramirez tweaked his hamstring in extended spring training in Phoenix while the A's were in Japan. The veteran slugger didn't make the trip to Sacramento and won't be available for the three-game exhibition series with the San Francisco Giants, which begins Monday at AT&T Park. Melvin said Ramirez's injury isn't serious and that he's not too concerned because Ramirez has to sit out 50 games due to suspension.
Fifth starter, first base still unsettled for A's
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Two games into the regular season and six days off from rebooting the 2012 campaign, the A's are still a bit unsettled. Oakland manager Bob Melvin said the fifth spot in the rotation and the starting first-base job are still up for grabs.
Right-hander Jarrod Parker, the A's top prospect who was acquired in the Trevor Cahill deal from Arizona this offseason, made the start for Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday, facing his teammates from Spring Training. Asked if Parker's start was something of an audition for the fifth spot in the Oakland rotation, Melvin said, "Absolutely."
But Parker didn't help his case, as he struggled with control and lasted just two innings. In all, he gave up six runs (three earned), on two hits and four walks while striking out two.
For the time being, Melvin said he's content with the first four starters on the staff: Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon, Tommy Milone and Tyson Ross. Parker's main competition for the fifth spot is fellow right-hander Graham Godfrey.
"We'll keep it like that right now," Melvin said. "We're still a work in progress. Anytime you're in Spring Training mode, you're still a work in progress."
Brandon Allen, who started on Opening Day in Japan, was back in the starting lineup on Saturday batting eighth, but he left the game in the fourth inning after a warmup throw bounced off the dirt and hit his face below his right eye. Allen, who sported an inch-long cut and some swelling on his right cheek after the game, is competing with Kila Ka'aihue and Daric Barton for everyday at-bats at first base.
Barton suited up with the River Cats to take batting practice on Saturday before rejoining his A's teammates. Melvin said Barton, who didn't travel to Japan, isn't fully recovered from surgery to his throwing shoulder and that his status for the April 6 home opener against Seattle is unknown.
"A lot of it is going to be health and how he feels," Melvin said. "I don't think he's quite there yet. He doesn't feel quite comfortable yet throwing. He's playing in games, but we got to make sure he's comfortable throwing the baseball and I'm not sure we're quite there. We could be soon, I'm not sure."
River Cats radio broadcaster Johnny Doskow called Saturday's game for the A's Triple-A affiliate but will be in the big league broadcast booth starting Monday. Doskow will fill in for A's play-by-play man Ken Korach on an interim basis, starting with the exhibition contest in San Francisco, as Korach rehabs from knee replacement surgery. It will mark Doskow's first Major League broadcasting experience since calling two games in Oakland during the 2004 season as a Toronto Blue Jays radio fill-in.
"He's been so welcoming and been so genuinely happy for me," Doskow said of Korach. "It's going to be amazing, I can't wait."
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.