Bobby Kielty is out to prove he deserves more playing time this season, and got off to a good start by going 3-for-3, including a home run, in the A's 8-7 loss to the Chicago Cubs in the Cactus League opener for both teams.
Kielty understands why he's in his current position. The switch hitter has struggled from the left side for two straight years, dropping the A's confidence in him from that side.
He hit a huge game-winning home run off Francisco Rodriguez to win one game from the left side, but knows he needs to be consistent from the left
side -- that's the road to more playing time.
The A's outfield is set with Nick Swisher in left, Mark Kotsay in center and newcomer Milton Bradley in right. On days when Frank Thomas isn't the designated hitter, Dan Johnson moves from first to DH, Swisher moves from left to first, and Jay Payton will play in the outfield.
Kielty would prefer to stay with the A's, but he is aware that ballplayers are always auditioning themselves for a job with the other 29 teams in baseball.
A good spring would force the A's hand, one way or another.
Moving Day for WBC
The Giants' Randy Winn and the Tigers' Ivan Rodriguez left their major league teams in style. Winn homered to lead off San Francisco's Cactus League opener before heading off to join the U.S. team's training camp. Rodriguez went 3-for-3 and drove in four runs in Detroit's first Grapefruit League contest, his final Tigers appearance before joining the Puerto Rican squad.
Dozens of other players made a token appearance at their full-time jobs before taking off to moonlight for their countries. But seemingly as many players have decided national pride isn't for them.
The Indians' C.C. Sabathia (USA) and the Twins' Luis Castillo (Dominican Republic) were among those saying, "Thanks, but no thanks," to their national teams Thursday. Also declining an invitation was Twins reserve infielder Luis Rodriguez, who turned down the Venezuelan team because he was going to be a backup.
At least one player had his arm twisted into playing in the WBC.
Detroit's Magglio Ordonez said pressure from his countrymen convinced him to change his stance and sign on for the Venezuelan team.
"Melvin (Mora of the Orioles) decided not to play," Ordonez said, "and they're killing him in Venezuela. It's hard because people won't forget. This is very important to them. It's like (soccer's) World Cup.
"This is the first time they'll see their best players together. They're very excited about that."
Notes From Camp
--SS Bobby Crosby isn't expected to play games defensively until March 12, but he will get lots of at-bats as the designated hitter. Crosby hit one of three homers for the A's in a seven-run inning Thursday.
--RHP Justin Duchscherer (groin) is unavailable for a few days.
--Thursday was a bad defensive day for two of the A's top prospects. SS Cliff Pennington made two wild throws that resulted in errors. His final error led to an unearned run that gave the game to the Chicago Cubs. 1B Daric Barton also had an error in the final frame and hesitated on the final play of the game, which prevented the A's from turning an inning-ending double-play and avoiding the loss. LHP Ron Flores was stuck with the tough-luck loss despite not giving up a hit or a non-intentional walk.
--2B Mark Ellis picked up where he left off last season by blasting a game-tying grand slam in the A's seven-run fifth inning. Ellis hit 12 homeruns after the All-Star Break last season. Could this be the year he breaks the 20 homer mark?
--OF Nick Swisher got off to a positive start to his spring, notching two hits in four at-bats. Swisher struggled last spring and those struggles appeared to carry over into the start of the 2005 regular season. He also played in left, something that he did little of last year, but expects to be doing a lot this season. Swisher has also been working at first base in practice.
--CL Huston Street got his one inning of work in before heading to the WBC. He allowed a hit and struck out a batter in a scoreless frame.
--P Chad Gaudin was impressive in his A's debut. He pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three.
Camp Notes: Kielty Looking To Impress
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