2/20/2014 7:20 P.M. ET
Callaspo offering offense, if not height, at first
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The A's could field a 5-foot-9 first baseman on occasion this year.
First they must test Alberto Callaspo's ability at the position, which Brandon Moss calls "the easiest one to play in the infield," before deciding if he is the team's best option to platoon with Moss.
"You can sacrifice defense for offense there because it's such an offensive-minded position," said Moss, who transitioned from the outfield to first base in 2012. "There's a lot going on, and you're always involved, but I don't think he'll have any problems at all."
This, just seconds after Moss yelled over to Callaspo, "Hey, I teach you!"
"I don't know, I'm too short for first base," the 30-year-old Callaspo joked. "You gotta be like [6-foot-8 Nate] Freiman. I never, ever, ever thought I'd play first base. I'll try, and I'm going to do my best job, but I think it'll be hard."
"The middle is a little bit more difficult to play," manager Bob Melvin said. "Third has its own dynamic, and he's handled that beautifully over the course of his career. His versatility kind of works against him in that he might have to do some things he hasn't done before, but we feel like he's able to do that."
Callaspo, a career .300 hitter against lefties, platooned with Eric Sogard at second base last year, but the A's have since brought in Nick Punto to play there, too. All three are expected to make the Opening Day roster, which would leave no room for first basemen Daric Barton and Freiman.
As a Rule 5 pick last year by the Astros, who then lost him on waivers to the A's, Freiman was required to remain on the active roster all season. He hit .274 with four home runs and 24 RBIs in 80 games, serving his role well. But the club can now start him at Triple-A without repercussions, which seems likely.
"We're in a mode right now where it's about winning," Moss said. "So this isn't just them having fun and trying new things out. It's about winning the game, and last year we did that with Freiman, and he did a great job, and now they're thinking about doing it with Callaspo, which is great.
"I could see lefties all day and not hit them as well as Callaspo does."
"We'll ease him into it," Melvin said. "Right now we do have some first basemen here, but it's certainly a potential target of ours for him to get at-bats against left-handers while playing first base, and we'll see how he does with it this spring."
Seeking Majors foothold, Montz has setback
PHOENIX -- Non-roster catcher Luke Montz, who in 2013 with the A's got a taste of the big leagues for the first time in five years, will not be seen behind the plate in spring games.
Montz is still limited in what he can do after having right shoulder surgery last year. For now, that means only catching bullpens, though he could see time at first base and DH when exhibition games start next week.
"It all depends," manager Bob Melvin said. "He could potentially DH, and we'll see how he feels at first."
Montz, 30, hit .179 in 13 games with Oakland in his first Major League action since batting .143 in 10 games for Washington in his 2008 debut, remaining on the A's big league roster for the month of May while Josh Reddick nursed a right wrist injury on the disabled list.
Montz returned to Triple-A Sacramento and hit .246 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs in 33 games with the River Cats in a season that ended in July because of his shoulder.
The A's released him Sept. 3 but re-signed him to a Minor League deal Oct. 12.
"A guy that's played as long as he has and finally gets the call to the big league level, gets some starts and I'm sure he was proud of the fact he worked so hard to get there, and now that goes away because of an injury for the rest of the season," Melvin said. "But I think he has some fight in him to work his way back."
With familiar message, Melvin speaks to team
PHOENIX -- Bob Melvin is carrying the same message into a new year.
The first day of full-squad workouts is an annual rite of spring, and for all clubs they begin with a team meeting that typically includes addresses by everyone from ownership down to coaches.
Melvin, beginning his third full season at the helm of the A's, marked his speech with a message "similar to the last couple of years," he said.
"We certainly go over the format and what's expected going into this season and what our expectations are," he said. "Pretty simple, really. No secrets. As you go along during the season, you try to reinforce these things. But we stay pretty focused on what we need to do, and we don't get caught up in any expectations other than the ones we have for ourselves."
Expectations from the inside and outside are naturally high, following a second straight American League West championship and another productive offseason that resulted in an upgraded roster.
The A's won 96 games in 2013 after totaling 94 the year before, and many around the league would not be surprised if they reached the three-digit plateau.
"You look at the numbers last year, we have one of the better offenses in the league, one of the better pitching staffs in the league," Melvin said. "So everyone's excited to get out here the first day with the full squad. Today is always a good day.
"You feel like a kid in a candy store on the first day, yet the goal is to feel like that every day."
• Lefty Tommy Milone was among a group of pitchers that threw live batting practice on Thursday afternoon. Pitchers are typically ahead of hitters around this time of year, and when asked about Milone's performance, Melvin smiled and said, "[Josh] Donaldson was taunting him, then he couldn't put the ball in play, so Tommy got the last laugh there."
• Right-hander A.J. Griffin has sported long blonde locks for much of his A's tenure, and he has no intent to chop them off in the near future.
"We won't let it grow down to his belt," said Melvin, "but you don't want to cut Sampson's locks off either."