OAKLAND -- The ninth inning will likely go on without Jim Johnson on Thursday. But not because the A's feel he doesn't belong there anymore.
They couldn't disagree more, in fact. Johnson will be held out of action for a day only because he needed 29 pitches to get through his Wednesday outing, which resulted in his second loss in as many appearances for his new team.
But his manager and teammates are eager to see him back in a save situation.
"You know, closers are going to blow two, three in a row," said Nick Punto. "That's part of the job. It's just magnified when it's the first series of the season. This is an established, really good closer. We all know that he's going to be dominant and be Jim Johnson the closer that he is. You just don't ever want to see someone have to deal with that right out of the shoot."
The veteran Punto had a good talk with Johnson Wednesday night, as did manager Bob Melvin.
"Look," said Melvin, "he's an accountable guy, and everything gets real magnified when you're in the closer's role, because when you have a bad day the team loses. He's with a new team, and it's happened the first couple times he's been out there. He's looking forward to getting out there and going in the opposite direction. It's just unfortunate he's gotten off to a slow start."
Johnson, who spent eight years in Baltimore before heading west this offseason in a trade that sent Jemile Weeks to the Orioles, said Thursday he's not surprised by the boos being showered by his new fan base. He heard them at Camden Yards a lot last year, too, when he blew nine saves. But he also locked down 50 of them, after compiling 51 the year before.
The first one in an A's uniform may now be the most crucial for Johnson, who looked at video of his outing and believes his early woes are stemming from location issues, which plagued him at times last year.
When Johnson's in trouble, he's typically falling behind hitters and also leaving pitches belt-high, rather than keeping his signature sinker down and drawing grounders. He's already begun the process of making an adjustment.
"Obviously this isn't the way I wanted to start, but guys here are right here with me already, and they know I work at it," he said. "I learned a long time ago you can't get too high, you can't get too low, so I'll be fine. I told Bob, I'm frustrated because I care and I want to do well and I feel like I gave everything out there, and then you don't get your results. But I'm not discouraged. There's a difference."
Callaspo gets first taste of first base
OAKLAND -- Alberto Callaspo added yet another position to his Major League resume on Thursday, making his first career start at first base in the opener of a four-game set against Seattle.
It's where the platoon-crazed A's expect him to be every time they face a left-handed starting pitcher.
"The front office is always looking at how the team can get more versatile and ways to match up guys with other guys depending on their strengths," said manager Bob Melvin. "Certainly Alberto can hit from both sides of the plate, and it seemed like a natural fit."
The experiment endured a rocky beginning, as the first batted ball of the game went through Callaspo's legs. When Seattle leadoff hitter Abraham Almonte rounded first, second baseman Nick Punto threw behind him. The throw was wide of Callaspo for an error on Punto.
Callaspo would stay on the field for six more innings without any further defensive issues, before being replaced by Daric Barton as a pinch-runner in the seventh.
The 5-foot-9 Callaspo, who has spent time at every other infield position besides catcher, as well as in the outfield corners, began work at first base in the early going of Spring Training. He borrowed Barton's glove for much of the time, but has since broken in his own that was also expected to debut Thursday.
"It's a work in progress for anybody who's learning a new position," said Melvin. "It is the infield. He can catch a grounder.
"It's going to take him some time to get real comfortable out there at first base, but each time he was out there in spring he looked better and better."
Taylor stays with A's after clearing waivers
OAKLAND -- The A's thought they had seen the last of Michael Taylor when they were forced to designate the outfielder for assignment on the final day of camp, despite a great Spring Training performance. But he remains theirs, after all.
Taylor cleared waivers on Wednesday and was outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento, where he'll begin his fifth season with the River Cats and provide Oakland additional outfield depth.
"I was kind of surprised with the spring that he had, but you know what? We're certainly glad to still have him in our organization," said manager Bob Melvin. "As a person, I wanted to see him get a Major League opportunity. But as someone who works for the A's, I like to see him in our organization."
Taylor hit just .135 in 74 at-bats over five stints at the big league level but excelled this spring, batting .274 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in 27 games, which is why outside interest was expected to be higher than ever for him.
The 28-year-old is a career .292/.375/.470 hitter in 766 Minor League games.
• Ryan Cook (shoulder) pitched a perfect inning in relief in a rehab appearance for Class A Stockton on Thursday. The right-hander is expected to be reinstated from the disabled list when eligible Saturday.
• The A's announced on Thursday they've voided infielder Jake Elmore's option to Triple-A Sacramento in favor of placing him on the 15-day disabled list.
The infielder suffered a strained left quad in the weekend's Bay Bridge exhibition series.
"It bothered him more so than we thought," said Melvin.
• Former A's player Scott Hatteberg, currently serving as a special assistant for the club, has been selected as the A's representative as one of 30 former big leaguers who will participate in the Hall of Fame Classic on May 24.
The 75th anniversary event will be played at Cooperstown's historic Doubleday Field. Another former A's player, Hideki Matsui, will represent the Yankees in the event.