Oakland A's Spring Notes: Swisher In Right

A's manager Bob Geren pulled a mild surprise by announcing that Nick Swisher was likely to play right field rather than left.

Coming into camp, it was believed Nick Swisher would rotate between first base and left field, and with outfielder Bobby Kielty gone for several weeks because of a knee injury, nothing is set in stone.

But Geren made it clear last week that right field is where he envisions Swisher when the switch hitter has his outfield glove.

"I'd like to keep Swisher as much as I can to one outfield position because he's going to be bouncing between the outfield and first," Geren said. "So I'd like to keep him in right field."

Of course, right field happens to be occupied by Milton Bradley. That would seem to point to Swisher seeing the majority of his time at first base, which could limit Dan Johnson's playing time.

But with Kielty out for much of the spring and center fielder Mark Kotsay's cranky back always an issue, no scenario looks guaranteed right now. Bradley is Geren's choice to play center when Kotsay isn't in the lineup, in which case Swisher probably would play right field.

Shannon Stewart and Kielty (when healthy) are expected to hold down left field.

Spring Notes
--RHP Marcus McBeth, who converted from the outfield after the 2004 season, has impressed coaches so far with his changeup. He quickly has become a dominant closer in the minors. McBeth allowed two runs in his first spring inning. Both runs scored on a wind-aided inside-the-park homer by Michael Barrett.

--C Adam Melhuse might see time at both corner infield spots during spring training in case he's needed in an emergency. Melhuse was a third baseman early in his career before switching to catcher. He has seen some time at first for the A's in recent years.

--DH Mike Piazza surprised A's manager Bob Geren by displaying some of the best bunting skills on the team during workouts. Piazza is off to a good start in spring games. Through Saturday, he was four for his first 10 and he had three RBI. He also scored from first on a double by Travis Buck, something last season's DH, Frank Thomas, was unable to do.

--RHP Scott Dunn turned heads by striking out Mike Piazza in an intrasquad game. Then he was charged with five runs in relief during Oakland's exhibition opener against Milwaukee.

--RHP Mike Mitchell had a strong spring debut, working two scoreless innings in the A's 5-5 Saturday tie with the Cubs. Mitchell walked two, but didn't allow a hit and struck out a batter.

--LHP Ron Flores has worked two scoreless outings to start the spring.

--OF Shannon Stewart is a good bet to lead off when he's in the lineup, meaning the A's would have to find a different place for Jason Kendall to hit.

--OF Travis Buck is off to a hot start this spring. He is hitting .500 and he has already doubled twice. Buck nearly won Saturday's game with a homerun, but his 10 inning flyout came up just short.

--2B Kevin Melillo is two for his first three. He also stole a base on Saturday.

BY THE NUMBERS: 14 -- Number of division games the A's play in April, giving them a great chance to get a jump in the AL West standings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's our starting center fielder. Is it a short time? A medium time? What are we going to do if (he can't play)?" -- A's manager Bob Geren, on worrying about Mark Kotsay's lower back problems.

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