ANAHEIM -- Catcher Derek Norris got in some work at first base on Monday, signaling the A's desire to keep their options open with the postseason around the corner.
Though Norris likely won't see action at first base in the playoffs, his ability to handle the position gives the A's some insurance, and it could also mean they're considering leaving Nate Freiman off the American League Division Series roster.
Freiman's chances already seemed slim, not only because of Daric Barton's recent performance but because of an abdominal strain that's sidelined him for a week.
"He's better, but still not able to swing yet," manager Bob Melvin said before Monday's series opener against the Angles. "Until he's able to swing live, we're not sure. Whether he's able to play in this series, I don't know."
Should Freiman be left out of the playoff mix, the A's could very well carry three catchers: Norris, Stephen Vogt and Kurt Suzuki. Suzuki boasts the most experience and is the better defensive option of the group, while regular platoon pair Norris and Vogt continue to swing the bat well.
Asked about this, Melvin smiled and said, "Anything's a possibility."
Cespedes expected to play outfield on Friday
ANAHEIM -- Yoenis Cespedes got through a throwing session on Monday afternoon without experiencing issues with his right shoulder, and he's expected to return to left field for Friday's game in Seattle.
Cespedes had started each of his last seven games as the designated hitter, while he recovers from shoulder tendinitis, but he wasn't in the lineup on Monday against the Angels, as manager Bob Melvin looked to get Seth Smith some needed playing time in left field. Cespedes will return to the lineup on Tuesday as the DH.
"We have some other guys that need to play, too," Melvin said before Monday night's 10-5 win. "We have to keep Smith current in the outfield. You will see some of our guys, like Yoenis, get a day off before the season is over. Today is his."
Smith entered the Monday night batting .186 since the All-Star break, and this was just his fifth start of the month, but he contributed with an RBI double in the second inning. His start in left field also gave Melvin a chance to get Brandon Moss back at first base. It's just his second start there in September, after spending much of his time in the outfield, first as a result of Josh Reddick's disabled list stint, then Cespedes' injury.
Moreover, Daric Barton is impressing at first base.
"He's been the odd man out," Melvin said. "I don't know how you can handle it better than he has. He's a productive guy for us. He's been a guy we've really relied on and hasn't gotten the at-bats here that he's used to getting, but he's complained zero about it and just wants to win. And when you have guys like that, boy, it's pretty infectious too."
Melvin to go with four best pitchers in playoffs
ANAHEIM -- A's manager Bob Melvin isn't tipping his hand on a potential postseason rotation, but it doesn't seem too hard to figure out.
Particularly, because Melvin said on Monday that he doesn't believe opponent or location will be a factor in the decision-making process.
"At this point, I don't think so," Melvin said. "I think you run the best guys out there in order that you think are the best guys suited to win on a particular night for you."
In that case, the all-right-handed rotation is likely to line up like this: Bartolo Colon, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin and Sonny Gray, with Dan Straily being the odd man out.
Griffin was initially scheduled to start Monday's series opener against the Angels but, after securing the American League West title on Sunday, the A's opted to go with lefty Tommy Milone in order to give each of the starting five an extra day off. Because of Thursday's off-day, Colon, Parker and Gray will all get two extra days' rest.
Milone, like Straily, could keep throwing in instructional league games following Sunday's regular-season finale to stay stretched out in the event the A's need their services at some point in the playoffs.
Starting players set for action down stretch
ANAHEIM -- Even after locking down their second straight American League West title with a week to go in the regular season, the A's still have too much to gain to rest all of their starting players.
That's why the starting lineup for Monday night's series opener against the Angels very much resembled ones that manager Bob Melvin has written out prior to this point.
"We still have some games to play, and we still have some games to win," Melvin said. "We'd like to secure [postseason] home-field advantage, so I don't think our mindset is any different. You might see a little different personnel day-to-day, but I think the flexibility of our roster would suggest we're still going to run out a roster that we feel is capable of winning.
"So our focus doesn't change. We go out on the field and continue to try to win today's game and then come out tomorrow and do the same."
According to Monday's standings, the A's would host the Tigers in an AL Division Series rematch. However, if the A's can overcome a 1 1/2-game deficit for the league's best record, held by Boston, they'd ensure themselves of home-field advantage through the postseason. Even more, they would draw a more favorable matchup in the AL Wild Card winner.
Unlike other clubs, the A's don't even need to rest their regulars. That's because there's so few of them with such a strict platoon system in use.
"You're able to keep them fresh that way," Melvin said. "Look, everyone wants to play every day, but we only have a select few that do here. In Jed [Lowrie]'s case, he'll DH [Monday]. We'll probably give Josh Donaldson a day off in the next coming days. We're able to put a guy like Alberto Callaspo over at third. Like I said, it could look a little bit different, but at this point in the season, I do feel like maybe we do have some fresh legs based on the fact they're not out there for 155-plus games."