SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For the majority of players in camp, Spring Training is all about getting chances and making impressions.
James Simmons is doing just that.
The 26-year-old right-hander, the club's first-round Draft pick in 2007, isn't in Major League camp, but the Minor Leaguer made his second Cactus League appearance in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 9-4 loss to the D-backs at Salt River Fields.
The appearance -- in which he allowed one hit and struck out one -- was earned on Sunday, when he impressed manager Bob Melvin by doing the simplest of things: throwing first-pitch strikes.
"He threw three first-pitch strikes, he got three quick outs. It was pretty impressive to see," Melvin said.
There was a time such words as impressive were frequently used to describe Simmons, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder who starred at California-Riverside. But a lingering shoulder injury in late 2009 forced him to miss all of 2010. He returned in 2011 but struggled -- posting a 5.48 ERA in 13 games at high Class A Stockton -- and was converted to a reliever.
Simmons has seemed to find a home in the 'pen, going 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 39 games last season and earning a promotion to Triple-A Sacramento. That success continued in the Arizona Fall League and, it appears, into Spring Training.
"You impress up here, and a lot of those things [like injuries] go by the wayside, and then your confidence builds on top of that," Melvin said. "He was drafted in the first round for a reason. It means he has some ability."
Given extra chance, Nakajima gets first MLB hit
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The third time was the charm for Hiroyuki Nakajima on Tuesday.
With two punchouts in two at-bats already complete, Nakajima didn't want to leave Tuesday's game against the D-backs at Salt River Fields with his third consecutive 0-for-2 performance. Neither did his manager, Bob Melvin, who gave the Japanese infielder one more at-bat.
Nakajima took advantage, knocking a single through the right side of the infield for his first Major League hit.
"Finally, I got that first hit out of the way, so I'm very much relieved," Nakajima said through his translator.
Melvin also was happy.
"It's nice to get your first hit, and it just relaxes you some," said Melvin, adding that he might give Nakajima extra at-bats from time to time in order to get him acclimated. "We know he's going to hit. It's early in Spring Training, and he's doing the right thing in how he's handling his at-bats."
Melvin wasn't the only member of the staff to help Nakajima before his first hit. The shortstop also received words of encouragement from batting coach Chili Davis.
"Before going out to the plate, I got advice from Chili Davis, saying that I was being kind of overaggressive in the previous two at-bats," Nakajima said. "He told me to relax, be patient, and that advice really helped in this at-bat."
With the hit, Nakajima is 1-for-7 with a walk in three Cactus League games. Despite the struggles, he said that nothing is surprising him in the box -- though he mentioned that the length of pitchers' strides in the Majors differs from that in Japan, which is taking some getting used to.
Tuesday's hit could prove he's becoming accustomed to it.
Reddick gets the runner -- but didn't mean to
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Josh Reddick stood at his locker, confused, when the media approached him.
"I only walked," Reddick said after Oakland's 9-4 loss to Arizona at Salt River Fields on Tuesday.
When he was told he threw somebody out -- which isn't really breaking news when it comes to the right fielder -- Reddick responded, "Not intentionally."
Tuesday's second inning featured the most bizarre play of the day. With one out and Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt on second, Cody Ross lifted a fly ball to right field, which Reddick caught. As Reddick threw, Goldschmidt appeared to try to decoy Reddick -- though Reddick said the ball "was way too deep for me to be even trying to throw someone out."
Reddick's throw was off, but shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima caught it and, surprised to see Goldschmidt right there, tagged out the first baseman.
"I was just trying to get it into Hiro as quickly as possible, and it went a little offline. It ended up working perfectly," Reddick said.
Reddick's throw was poor, Nakajima didn't hear Goldschmidt's footsteps and, somehow, the A's managed to come out on top in that weird situation.
"I was like, 'OK, that's cool. We'll call it a day,'" said starter A.J. Griffin, who exited after the inning.
• Everyone is excited when Spring Training games start -- not only so they can break the monotony of drills and pitcher's fielding practice, but also so they can get on the field and actually compete. The excitement is especially true for young guys playing in their first games, which manager Bob Melvin remembers vividly from his playing days.
"The first time I got to catch in a Major League Spring Training game, it was literally an out-of-body experience for me," Melvin said. "I mean, I saw myself walk out of my body, stand in front of the pitcher, going, 'Are you kidding me?'"
• Outfielder Chris Young, who left Sunday's game with a quad cramp for precautionary reasons, is scheduled to return to the starting lineup on Wednesday, batting third and playing right field.
• Outfielder Shane Peterson had another hit on Tuesday and is now 5-for-10 this spring.
"He's squared up almost every ball in every at-bat that he's had," Melvin said. "He's making the most of his opportunity, and he'll continue to get opportunities."