03/02/2013 2:30 PM ET
Nakajima bouncing around A's lineup
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- A's shortstop Hiro Nakajima will find his name all over the batting order this spring, while manager Bob Melvin figures out where he best fits in the lineup.
Having already hit second and sixth this spring, Nakajima was slotted in the seventh spot of the order on Saturday. It's likely he'll never want to hit there again.
The Japanese infielder was hit by a pitch twice in the left arm in his first two plate appearances, before he struck out swinging in the in his final at-bat of the day in the fifth.
"In the regular season, back in Japan, on average I got hit about 14 or 15 times," Nakajima said through his interpreter. "But not so much during Spring Training, so in that sense it was very surprising."
Still, Nakajima is more than willing to participate in Melvin's lineup experiment.
"In Japan, when I made my debut, I batted seventh in the lineup, and then I moved my way up to the No. 3 spot," he said. "But in terms of my positioning here in the United States, I really don't have any kind of [preference] of where I want to be. So wherever is open, I'll take it. As long as I'm contributing to the team, that's all that matters. My place in the lineup doesn't mean that much to me."
It was from the seventh spot where Nakajima stole his first base as a big leaguer Saturday, before also crossing home plate for the first time, too, on Eric Sogard's RBI single. Nakajima tallied as many as 25 stolen bases in a season while in Japan, and he said after the game he hopes his speed will translate to the American game.
"I want to maintain that kind of aggressive basepath approach here in the States," said Nakajima, who raced for second on his own. "I want to take advantage of this Spring Training time to increase my speed on the base paths and get comfortable on the base paths."
Melvin surely appreciates this kind of approach, since it will only help him determine a home for Nakajima in the lineup.
"He'll move around some," Melvin said. "I'm not sure what type of hitter we're looking at yet. Is he the type of guy that's going to drive the ball and drive in some runs? Is he a guy that I'm going to hit-and-run with? You might want to hit him lower in the order for production. Looking at our lineup last year, we got quite a bit of production from the bottom half, and we had some guys in the middle of the order that were on-base guys, and therefore you want guys below them that can knock in guys too."
Reserved Milone has two quiet innings in debut
PHOENIX -- Tommy Milone's spring debut came and went without much ruckus, just as he hoped.
The A's lefty, whose reserved demeanor away from the field matches the one he brings to the mound, quietly put away two clean innings against the Rockies on Saturday, allowing only one baserunner along the way.
Milone walked Carlos Gonzalez in the first but exited the inning unscathed. He picked up three quick outs -- two on ground balls, and a strikeout -- in the second, throwing a total of 36 pitches.
"I wouldn't say I was amped but just a little anxious to get out there, so I felt like a couple of those pitches I was rushing a little bit," Milone said. "So I just had to tell myself to relax and go out there and throw strikes. That's the main thing, especially with the first outing, is throwing strikes, and I felt for the most part I was able to do that."
Milone, 26, was the last of Oakland's expected starting rotation members to pitch this spring. Like the others, Milone didn't pitch in the first few games by design. The A's rested their regulars because of a lengthier camp this year, and because of the heavy workloads they endured last year.
Milone racked up 190 innings as a rookie in 2012, picking up 13 wins for the 94-win American League West champions. Past those numbers, though, he is still a young pitcher trying to make an impression on his employers, despite already carrying around job security he didn't have at this time last year.
"I'm trying to do the same thing," Milone said. "I'm not letting myself assume I have a spot. You have to go out there still and perform and provide for the team. That's what I'm trying to do out there every time, no matter if I feel I have a spot or not. It doesn't really change anything."
Milone, like each of Oakland's starters, will pitch every five days from here on out. He's expected to be the No. 3 starter in the A's rotation come Opening Day, behind Brett Anderson and Jarrod Parker and ahead of A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily.
• Outfielder Michael Choice continued his spring dominance on Saturday, collecting his team-leading 10th hit of the spring in only 17 at-bats. He also notched his seventh RBI -- also first on the club -- on a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
• A's top pitching prospect Sonny Gray was awarded the win in Saturday's game after following Milone's outing with two scoreless frames of his own. Gray struck out two and gave up one hit with one walk.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.