PHOENIX — Opening day is getting closer. On Thursday, for the first time this spring, the Oakland Athletics major leaguers moved from the team's practice facility into Phoenix Municipal Stadium. They had a game to play. Sort of.
Manager Bob Geren split the roster into two — white pants against gray — and played about three innings. An intrasquad scrimmage? Hallelujah, baseball's back!
The major real news: Pitchers Josh Outman(notes) and Joey Devine(notes), who have been recovering from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, threw about 20 pitches each. Devine's command was off a bit, but Outman looked particularly good. More specifics on them later.
The attention Outman and Devine received paled by comparison to another A's player.
Going by press coverage, the major news of the day was Matsui's debut. And going by press coverage, the major news of any day with the A's this season will be whatever Matsui does. Perhaps 35 reporters (including still and video camera people) from Japan follow his every move. If he's not a bigger deal in Japan than Ichiro(notes), he's definitely close.
The A's are going to sell a lot of gear in Japan thanks to this guy.
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Prospect Chris Carter is trying to make the team as a left fielder/first baseman/DH, but the A's are pretty set there with Willingham, Daric Barton(notes) and Matsui. Carter also will fight Conor Jackson(notes), who is trying to return after missing most of the past two years with the worst run of luck in injury history.
Carter was excited to hit fourth, where he often did in the minors as he built a career .920 OPS.
"It's pretty good, because it's where I've hit pretty much my whole career," Carter said. "When I got called up last year, I was hitting 6-7-8. So you see [cleanup] and you know there's still a chance it'll happen again."
Remember that Carter started 0-for-33 in 2010 before getting his first major league hit.
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