27 Mar

on your marks

They start playing for keeps in MLB on Wednesday morning (Mississippi time), when Oakland and Seattle tangle in Japan. Seth Smith, the ex-Hillcrest Christian and Ole Miss standout, is expected to make his A’s debut — probably at DH, not left field. Oakland announced some time back that Yoenis Cespedes, the prized (and high-priced) Cuban defector, would start in center field, with Coco Crisp moving to left. Josh Reddick is slated to start in right. That leaves the DH role for Smith, a lefty hitter who should be in the opening lineup against Mariners ace right-hander Felix Hernandez. Smith is hitting .286 this spring, above his career average of .275. He hasn’t homered, but he’ll get some. He belted 15 for Colorado in 2011 and should get more at-bats with Oakland, though many of them will come in a park that’s tougher for hitters than Coors Field. Smith, a good athlete, will get some outfield time, as well. … Former Mississippi Braves third baseman Wes Timmons did not make the A’s roster for the two-game series in Japan. Timmons, who was on the inaugural M-Braves club in 2005, has played 998 minor league games without a taste of the majors.
P.S. Former Mississippi State left-hander Paul Maholm threw five shutout innings for the Chicago Cubs on Monday and lowered his spring ERA to 0.90 in 10 innings. The Greenwood native is slated to be the Cubs’ No. 5 starter, which is fine by him. “I’ll take the ball every fifth day and expect to win that day,” he told mlb.com. “The day you’re pitching, you’re the No. 1 guy.” It’s refreshing to hear an attitude like that.

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