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