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Callaspo offering offense, if not height, at first

Callaspo offering offense, if not height, at first

PHOENIX -- The A's could field a 5-foot-9 first baseman on occasion this year.

First they must test Alberto Callaspo's ability at the position, which Brandon Moss calls "the easiest one to play in the infield," before deciding if he is the team's best option to platoon with Moss.

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"You can sacrifice defense for offense there because it's such an offensive-minded position," said Moss, who transitioned from the outfield to first base in 2012. "There's a lot going on, and you're always involved, but I don't think he'll have any problems at all."

This, just seconds after Moss yelled over to Callaspo, "Hey, I teach you!"

"I don't know, I'm too short for first base," the 30-year-old Callaspo joked. "You gotta be like [6-foot-8 Nate] Freiman. I never, ever, ever thought I'd play first base. I'll try, and I'm going to do my best job, but I think it'll be hard."

"The middle is a little bit more difficult to play," manager Bob Melvin said. "Third has its own dynamic, and he's handled that beautifully over the course of his career. His versatility kind of works against him in that he might have to do some things he hasn't done before, but we feel like he's able to do that."

Callaspo, a career .300 hitter against lefties, platooned with Eric Sogard at second base last year, but the A's have since brought in Nick Punto to play there, too. All three are expected to make the Opening Day roster, which would leave no room for first basemen Daric Barton and Freiman.

As a Rule 5 pick last year by the Astros, who then lost him on waivers to the A's, Freiman was required to remain on the active roster all season. He hit .274 with four home runs and 24 RBIs in 80 games, serving his role well. But the club can now start him at Triple-A without repercussions, which seems likely.

"We're in a mode right now where it's about winning," Moss said. "So this isn't just them having fun and trying new things out. It's about winning the game, and last year we did that with Freiman, and he did a great job, and now they're thinking about doing it with Callaspo, which is great.

"I could see lefties all day and not hit them as well as Callaspo does."

"We'll ease him into it," Melvin said. "Right now we do have some first basemen here, but it's certainly a potential target of ours for him to get at-bats against left-handers while playing first base, and we'll see how he does with it this spring."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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