PHOENIX -- The A's first-base competition will surely heat up with the commencement of Friday's Cactus League opener, but contender Daric Barton will be limited to designated-hitter duties for now, as expected.
Barton, on the mend from right-shoulder surgery, recently had a cortisone shot and was instructed to take three days off. He should be swinging a bat again by Saturday, and could make his spring debut at DH in one of Monday's split-squad contests, manager Bob Melvin said.
Barton, 26, isn't expected to begin throwing again until mid-March, at which point he would only have a limited number of days to see game action at first base before the club departs for Japan. Such a timeline seemingly puts him behind competitors Brandon Allen, Kila Ka'aihue and Chris Carter. But that's not necessarily the case, given the club's familiarity with his defensive skills.
"We know what we expect of him, and we need to get him healthy before we can see some of those results," Melvin said.
Barton was the A's Opening Day starter at first base last year, but never got on track offensively -- hitting .212 with no home runs and a .267 slugging percentage in 67 games, before being optioned to Triple-A Sacramento in June. What he can do with the bat over the next few weeks will likely dictate his chances of starting the year in Oakland.
"I'd like to see everything," Melvin said, "but that's the thing that's going to come first. We feel good about his defense."