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PHOENIX — The Oakland Athletics don't know quite where to put shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima in the lineup.

He must have a none-too-favorable impression of the seventh spot after batting there Saturday during the Athletics' 6-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

He was hit in the left elbow in his first trip. Then he was hit by a pitch on his left arm in his second trip.

"In Japan I would get hit 14, 15 times a year," he said through an interpreter. "But for it to be in spring training is very unusual. I'm fine, though."

He rebounded from the double dose of pain to steal second base in the fourth inning and scored the A's fourth run on a single by Eric Sogard.

In earlier Cactus League play, Nakajima had batted second twice and sixth twice. In Japan, he began his career batting seventh but worked himself up to be the No. 3 hitter for Seibu.

"In terms of being here in the U.S.," said Nakajima, who also struck out Saturday. "I have no definite opinion of where I want to hit, just as long as I can contribute."

Before the game, manager Bob Melvin said Nakajima could move around the lineup to see where he best fits with the rest of the moving pieces.

"We'll move Hiro through spots in the lineup," Melvin said. "I'm not sure what type of hitter he is yet. Is he a hit-and-run type? Is he someone who can drive in runs?"

In the first instance, Nakajima would best bat second. In the second case, hitting sixth or seventh might be preferred.

"We got a lot of production from the guys hitting after the middle of the order," Melvin said. "Our 3-4-5 guys got on base a lot, and (Nakajima) might fit in batting behind them."

While not considered a classic RBI producer, Nakajima drove in 100 runs for Seibu two years ago and reached at least 90 RBIs in three of the past four years while playing the shorter Japanese schedule.

Melvin and hitting coach Chili Davis were delighted with Nakajima's batting practice in the morning, when he began putting loft on the ball and pulled several home runs.

"Early in camp he wasn't trying to do that," Melvin said. "But you'll see veterans as the camp gets going will be able to get the bat head on the ball more."

Nakajima said he was "trying to hit the inside pitch in the air today."


Travis Blackley was feeling a little better Saturday, a day after facing eight Giants hitters and allowing seven to reach base. All seven scored.

"That hurt," Blackley said. "I'm too competitive for it not to hurt, spring training or not."

And it happened against the Giants, who put him on waivers last May. The A's claimed him and were rewarded when he went 6-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 24 games, including 15 starts.

He pitched Game 161 on Oct. 2, beating the Texas Rangers 3-1. The A's won the AL West title the next day.

Performances like that one will have much more resonance with the A's than Friday's.

"What I keep telling myself," Blackley said, "is that I go out next time and get a 1-2-3 inning and everything will be OK again. I can't wait to get out there."


Tommy Milone threw 36 pitches in his first spring start, after which he said he had been "a little anxious in the first inning and was rushing my pitches."

He settled down and didn't allow a run in retiring six of the seven men he faced. Although he is being looked at as the No. 3 starter, he said "I'm trying not to let myself think like I've got a spot."


Left-hander Garrett Olson got hit around a bit Friday, but he was feeling good Saturday. Friday was his first game after being out with a hamstring injury, and just being back on the mound was a major plus.

"It's good to feel that day-after soreness for the first time," Olson said.


A group of fans started a rhythmic call-and-response "Naka Jima" chant before Nakajima's third trip to the plate. A's spring training fans seem taken by Nakajima, playing here in his first year after leaving Japan.


Athletics starting pitchers begin their second round of games against the Rockies in Scottsdale on Sunday with A.J. Griffin doing the honors. Each will be slated to throw 35 to 50 pitches.


Outfielder Michael Choice is 10 for 17 (.588) and Shane Peterson is 9 for 20 (.450) for the A's. Choice had a single and a sacrifice fly Saturday, and Peterson, who also came off the bench, had two singles in two at-bats.


Four of the A's six runs came on home runs, a three-run shot by Josh Reddick in the third and a solo blast to center by Brandon Moss in the fifth. It was the first homer of the spring for both.

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