Matsui hits third for first time since '09

Matsui hits third for first time since '09

Matsui hits third for first time since '09
CHICAGO -- Making Hideki Matsui one of the focal points of the A's batting order is essential to interim manager Bob Melvin.

That very perspective influenced Melvin to insert Matsui into the third spot of the lineup for Saturday's contest against the White Sox, marking the designated hitter's first start there since 2009 and just the 23rd of his career -- 18 of which came in 2007 with the Yankees. The change, Melvin said, has potential to become a permanent one.

"He's a veteran," Melvin said. "He's a guy we need to lean on. He's had two very good games, and it doesn't mean that it's going to happen every day, but I feel good with a guy like him hitting in that spot."

Matsui was 4-for-8 during the first two games in Chicago following a disappointing 4-for-40 stretch over his previous 12 contests. He's mostly hit fifth this season, with 16 starts in the fourth spot as well.

Meanwhile, Conor Jackson has received the most starts in the No. 3 hole this season, with 28, and David DeJesus isn't too far behind with 22. Ryan Sweeney (8) and Josh Willingham (7) are the only other players to start there.

"I wrestled with the fact that you want to run the best lineup out there every day and you want to match up the best you can with a particular pitcher, but in the three-spot, if you keep running guys in and out of there, psychologically that may play into, 'Maybe we're not as good offensively as we think we are,'" Melvin explained. "I like to have a little bit more of a set lineup, especially in the middle, and rely on those guys and have confidence in those guys.

"That's a very important position, and when you rotate in and out of there, I don't think it sends a good message. We'll see where it goes, but at least that's the thought of the day."

Matsui went 0-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly in the A's 3-2 defeat.