HOU@OAK: Smith drives a single to right in the fifth

OAKLAND -- Seth Smith appeared to face a challenge for playing time to start the season, based on the crowded numbers in the A's outfield.

He's helping his case so far by swinging one of the hottest bats on the team.

Smith went 3-for-5 with a run on Wednesday's matinee against Houston, and is hitting .447 with seven RBIs in 12 games. His run-scoring single in the fifth inning Tuesday night gave the A's a lead in a game they eventually won 4-3.

Significantly, the left-handed-hitting Smith is raking against lefty pitching. He was 6-for-9 against southpaws entering Wednesday, and that caught the attention of A's manager Bob Melvin.

"You look at his average against lefties and he's been very productive," Melvin said. "That's where he was going to be limited, was his at-bats against left-handers. But with [left fielder] Yoenis [Cespedes] out, and the fact he's swinging well against lefties, I'm leaving him in there and he's been productive."

The offseason addition of Chris Young, obtained in a trade from Arizona, seemed it might take at-bats away from Smith. The A's entered the season with a starting outfield of Cespedes, center fielder Coco Crisp and right fielder Josh Reddick, leaving Smith and Young to potentially compete for at-bats as the designated hitter and extra outfielder.

With Cespedes on the disabled list with a strained left hand, an opportunity has opened for Smith and he's taking advantage. But he said he didn't come into the season stressing over the numbers game in the outfield. He knows Melvin finds a way to utilize players who are producing.

"I've done it in the past, when you try to do something big and you think if you don't get a big hit, you're not going to get to play the next day," Smith said. "It's different here. There's no reason to press."

Rosales to begin Minor League rehab assignment

OAK@SF: Rosales' two-run homer extends the A's lead

OAKLAND -- Infielder Adam Rosales, on the disabled list with a strained rib cage, began a Minor League rehab assignment with Class A Stockton on Wednesday night at San Jose.

Rosales had been doing full activity in recent days, and throwing without pain was the final hurdle for him to overcome.

"We'll get him out on a rehab assignment and see how many games that will take," A's manager Bob Melvin said before Wednesday's game. "You like to bring a guy up when he's playing well. When we get back from the road trip we'll see how he's doing."

The A's begin a six-game road trip on Friday and return for their next homestand on April 25. Injured outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has been running and throwing, but he's still not swinging a bat until his left hand feels better.

Norris leaves game with jaw injury, X-rays negative

DET@OAK: Norris' sac fly drives home the A's first ru

OAKLAND -- A's catcher Derek Norris left Wednesday's game after being hit in the jaw with a foul tip in the seventh inning. X-rays were negative, but Norris was talking carefully after the game so as not to move his jaw too much.

He was asked if he felt he'd be available for Friday's road trip opener at Tampa Bay.

"Nothing's broken," he said. "I'll be ready."

Peterson collects first Major League hit

HOU@OAK: Peterson singles for first hit in Majors

OAKLAND -- Shane Peterson, who was called up Tuesday from Triple-A Sacramento for his Major League debut, drew a second straight start at first base Wednesday. He recorded his first hit, a single to center in the fourth, along with his first RBI and run. Peterson is likely headed back to the minors, as regular first baseman Brandon Moss is expected to come off paternity leave and rejoin the team Friday against Tampa Bay.

 

"He made a very good impression," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Peterson. "This kid, he's ready to play in the big leagues. It's just not his time right at this minute."

Worth noting

• First baseman Brandon Moss remains on the paternity list, so rookie Shane Peterson drew his second straight start at first Wednesday.

• The Cal women's basketball team, which made the program's first trip to the Final Four this season, was honored before the game, with guard Layshia Clarendon throwing out the first pitch.