Rajai Davis hitting leadoff in A's exhibition opener Saturday

Rajai Davis hitting leadoff in A's exhibition opener Saturday

MESA, Ariz. — A’s manager Bob Melvin announced his lineup for Saturday’s exhibition opener against the Chicago Cubs, and at least the top of the order has an Opening Day look to it.

Rajai Davis will lead off and handle center field, and that’s the role Melvin envisioned for him when he was signed in the winter as a free agent. Marcus Semien will bat second, a spot that could also potentially be occupied by Jed Lowrie were he in the lineup at second base.

The heart of the order features new right fielder Matt Joyce hitting third, Mark Canha handling left field and batting cleanup and designated hitter Stephen Vogt hitting fifth. On Opening Night, obviously, Khris Davis will play left and likely bat cleanup, but it’s quite possible Melvin sticks with the left-handed hitting Joyce and Vogt sandwiching the right-handed Davis.

Though Trevor Plouffe projects as the everyday third baseman, prospect Matt Chapman gets the start Saturday against the defending World Series champs, and there was thought behind that as Melvin wants the highly regarded Chapman to experience what should be a raucous atmosphere at Sloan Park in Mesa. It’s the Cubs first game of any kind since winning their first Series since 1906, and the intensity should be cranked up from that of a typical Cactus League opener.

“It’s one of the reasons a guy like Matt Chapman is in the lineup,” Melvin said. “I want (young players) to see what is going on over there.”

He mentioned the A’s other top-rated position player prospect, Franklin Barreto, will get time at shortstop Saturday.

Right-hander Jesse Hahn will make the start on the mound, and he’ll face a Cubs split-squad lineup that includes Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jason Hayward, Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell. The Cubs have crammed more than 15,000 fans into Sloan Park before, and it won’t be a surprise to see the ballpark at capacity.

“For me, it’s just the first game of the year, so it’s exciting for me no matter who it is,” Hahn said. “I mean, it’s a plus to go over there in that stadium. Everybody knows how electric that stadium is.”

Here’s the A’s full lineup Saturday:

R. Davis CF

Semien SS

Joyce RF

Canha LF

Vogt DH

Chapman 3B

Alonso 1B

Rosales 2B

Maxwell C

Hahn RHP

A's announce 2018 Opening Day starter


A's announce 2018 Opening Day starter

For the second straight season, Kendall Graveman will get the ball on Opening Day for the A's. And for the second straight year, he'll face Mike Trout and the Angels.

The team made the news official on Tuesday morning.

Last year, in a win over the Angels, Graveman went six innings, allowed two earned runs and struck out seven.

"It's something I don't take for granted. It's an honor and a privilege and [I just want to] try to get the season off to a good start and hopefully be a leader of this staff," Graveman told reporters Tuesday in Arizona.

In four seasons with the A's and Blue Jays, Graveman has a 4.11 ERA in 76 appearances.

A's agree to deal with familiar veteran pitcher


A's agree to deal with familiar veteran pitcher

UPDATE (Mar. 19, 7:45 p.m. PT): The A's officially announced the Cahill signing on Monday. This story has been updated to reflect that.

On the same day the Oakland A's learned they'd be without Jharel Cotton all season, they signed a familiar face to bolster their pitching depth. 

Oakland agreed to a one-year deal with Trevor Cahill, nearly 12 years after the A's drafted him in the second round. 

Cahill pitched for Oakland from 2009-11. He started 96 games in three seasons with the A's, going 40-35 with a 3.91 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. Since Oakland traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Dec. 2011, Cahill's pitched for six teams. 

The 30-year-old won a World Series ring with the Chicago Cubs in 2016, and pitched for the San Diego Padres and Kansas City Royals last season. In 2017, he went 4-3 in 21 appearances (14 starts) with a 4.93 ERA and 1.62 WHIP.