Nunez likely to see more time as DH with A's

Club's No. 5 prospect goes hitless in first career start vs. Royals

Nunez likely to see more time as DH with A's

KANSAS CITY -- The grammatical intricacies of the English language can be especially challenging to absorb, particularly when going through the growing pains of Minor League baseball at the same time.

Yet, A's prospect Renato Nunez has done well in managing both. The power-hitting third baseman, who went hitless in three at-bats as the designated hitter in Tuesday's 5-4 win over the Royals on Tuesday night, is nearly fluent in the language, six years after latching on with the organization as a non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela at age 16.

Nunez, ranked as the club's No. 5 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, is quick to credit longtime teammate Matt Olson for the assist. Olson, called up with Nunez for his big league debut on Monday, has played with Nunez at essentially every level, beginning with the Arizona Rookie League in 2012. They've since been teammates at both Class A levels, Beloit and Class A Advanced Stockton, as well as at Double-A Midland, Triple-A Nashville and now the Majors.

"It seems like I've played every single game with him," Olson said. "I always joke around and tell people he's my Latin brother."

Nunez and Olson won't play every day, but they'll get their at-bats, manager Bob Melvin said. Nunez is likely to see most of them at DH, with Ryon Healy sitting comfy at third base.

"We like what Healy's done so far," Melvin said. "Ryon has proven to be an everyday guy who wants to be out there every day and is doing a nice job with it, so we're still getting a long look at him.

"We have enough guys here that we're looking at, but more than anything we want to give [Olson and Nunez] that experience of being here and being around this team. They're part of the group of guys here that have come up together."

Looking around the room on Tuesday, Nunez said, "You kind of feel like you're home. I've been playing with these guys since I signed, so it's good to be with these guys here."

Nunez arrived early to work with infield coach Ron Washington. His offense is thought to be ahead of his defense at third, though Nunez has recently expanded his value by clocking time in left field with Nashville, noting he's open to any position that offers him an opportunity. At the plate, he hit 23 home runs, plus five more during the postseason.

"He's always been the same player since we started," Olson said. "He's a polished hitter."

Nunez hopes to have his family on hand in Oakland when the A's return home next week. His father, mother and sister, who traveled from Venezuela to stay with him in Nashville for a month this season, are all expected to make the trip to the Bay Area.

"It should be exciting," Nunez said.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.