A's keep Valencia in lineup, start him at DH, 1B

A's keep Valencia in lineup, start him at DH, 1B

OAKLAND -- Danny Valencia won't be the A's everyday third baseman moving forward, but manager Bob Melvin said Oakland will try to find ways to keep him in the lineup because of his hitting ability.

The A's cleanup hitter started at DH on Saturday against Blue Jays starter and former teammate R.A. Dickey. He made his first start of the season at first base on Sunday, opposite lefty J.A. Happ. Valencia worked with A's assistant coach Ron Washington on first-base drills more than three hours before Saturday's game, and he will also rotate in at the corner-outfield positions.

Valencia made his first appearance at first base Friday night, replacing Yonder Alonso following Alonso's ejection for arguing balls and strikes, and Melvin said he's handling the difficult transition well, with which Valencia agreed.

"Danny handled it really well for a guy who had been so impactful for us, especially offensively, from the moment he got here," Melvin said. "That was a tough pill for him to swallow yesterday, and he did. And he went out there and he worked at first and worked in the outfield and he's trying to get himself ready to play different positions right now."

Valencia's previous in-game appearance at first base was July 22 of last year.

"I've played first base before, so I probably feel more comfortable there than I would be at a position I've never played," Valencia said.

Valencia's three-run homer

He's also shown comfort against knuckleball pitchers. Valencia entered Saturday 2-for-6 against Dickey, with two homers and three walks, and he also has a home run against Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright. Valencia said he never spoke with Dickey about facing a knuckleball pitcher, but relies on video and the common adage, "If it's high, let it fly, if it's low, let it go."

"It's tough as it is, because it moves so much," Valencia said. "I think you give yourself a chance as a hitter if you just see the ball up."

On the injury front

• Melvin said catcher Josh Phegley could resume baseball activities as soon as next week and is recovering quickly after undergoing surgery to remove a cruciate ligament cyst in his right knee. The A's placed Phegley on the disabled list retroactive to July 2 with right knee inflammation, his second DL stint this year.

Sean Doolittle could begin throwing next week, according to Melvin. Doolittle was placed on the DL with inflammation in his left labrum at the end of June. Fellow reliever Fernando Rodriguez, who is also on the DL with a right shoulder strain, isn't as close to returning, and Melvin said the A's haven't set a throwing plan for him yet.

• Second baseman Eric Sogard has increased his cardio work in recent days as he returns from left knee surgery, but he is not yet cleared for baseball activity.

Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.