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Nakajima to get start in team's first spring game


PHOENIX -- On Friday, the A's released their first of many lineups that will be used this year, this one to be on display Saturday for the club's Cactus League opener against the host Brewers.

"Don't read too much into it," manager Bob Melvin warned.

Melvin is more concerned with the performance of the players that encompass it rather than how they're lined up for now.

He'll especially keep close eye on Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, who will start his first game as a big leaguer from the No. 2 hole, behind leadoff man Jemile Weeks, on Saturday. The A's have already been impressed with Nakajima's skill set, but how it translates to game action remains to be seen.

"Is there foot speed there to steal bases? Is he a hit and run guy, or is he a guy you want to let hit in runs?" Melvin said. "There are a lot of unknowns about him. We've kind of seen what he can do here, but you don't really get a good feel for it until you see him do it in games."

Nakajima's double-play partner will also be evaluated heavily this spring. Weeks, whose struggles in 2012 led to a demotion, needs to prove his worth as an everyday player again, and he'll have to do so with Scott Sizemore -- batting ninth at designated hitter on Saturday -- also fighting for the same job.

Normally Melvin doesn't put too much weight on spring numbers, but in this instance, with a head-to-head competition playing out, "it's all you have to go on," he said.

"Guys know they're in competition," he continued. "You play probably a little bit differently. You're not just in 'getting ready' type mode. There's more urgency, so the spots where you do have to evaluate it based on performance, you do."

Rounding out Saturday's lineup are Josh Reddick, playing right field and batting third, followed by first baseman Brandon Moss, left fielder Seth Smith, center fielder Chris Young and, ahead of Sizemore in the No. 8 slot, third baseman Josh Donaldson.

Every other regular, including Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie and Derek Norris, will start Sunday's game against the Angels.

"It's a bit of a Groundhog Day feeling at this point," Melvin said, "where you try to switch it up some but everyone's ready to get going and play in some games."

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