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Nakajima getting head start on Spring Training


PHOENIX -- Hiroyuki Nakajima is going to be just fine.

That seems to be the general consensus around A's camp, where the Japanese shortstop has made quite the first impression.

"We're all pleasantly surprised with what we are seeing," manager Bob Melvin said. "His hands work very well, as far as batting practice, and he's not trying to do too much. His hands looked very sure while taking ground balls, too."

Position players aren't required to report to camp until Saturday, but Nakajima has already been paying visits to the A's spring facilities for two weeks, as he continues to make necessary adjustments required of a transition to the Major Leagues.

Infield coach Mike Gallego, who gained insight while working with Japanese shortstop Kaz Matsui in Colorado, has been by his side every step of the way and has naturally tucked away a handful of evaluations.

"Excellent hands. Quick feet," Gallego said. "One thing that I did see over the first couple of days is that he has a tendency to stay back on balls, and that's due to how much time he's spent on turf. He's gotta make an adjustment with the natural surface and improve his angles, because he's just so used to fielding side to side. In a week, he's already making that adjustment, so he's very impressive in that manner, as far as knowing what he has to do to get it done out there."

Gallego deems both Nakajima's arm and range "a little better than average," noting that the latter will only get better as he accumulates knowledge of the team's pitchers and their tendencies.

"He seems very astute, as far as knowledge of the game and understanding the nuances of becoming a top-shelf Major League infielder," he said. "It's always been pretty impressive how well these guys that don't speak the language communicate with their teammates, and how universally wide baseball lingo is."

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