OAKLAND -- Everyone knows the A's signed Hiroyuki Nakajima to be their starting shortstop and to be a productive part of their lineup.

But when you listen to manager Bob Melvin talk, it's clear that Nakajima's baseball skills were only part of the attraction.

Melvin, appearing at the A's annual FanFest Sunday, put the arrival of the smiling, spikey-haired Nakajima in broader perspective.

"When we were not able to bring Stephen (Drew) back, Hiro was a good acquisition for us," Melvin said. "I'm very excited about what he can offer. He can hit. He can play defense.

"And he looks like a leader, a gamer. He will fit in very well here."

Upon hearing that, Nakajima's wide smile grew even wider, if such a thing is possible.

"If he said that, then I am even more excited to be here," Nakajima said. "I will certainly do what I can to be a leader here."

Nakajima's first FanFest was an unqualified success. The event at the Coliseum was sold out, and when Nakajima was introduced in the Coliseum Arena, fans chanted his name.

"When I went out there, they were calling me Hiro," Nakajima said through a translator. "I appreciate that. It makes me very excited."

An instant hit in Oakland after his introductory press conference following is Dec. 18 signing with the A's, Nakajima hasn't lost any of his charm.

"He has one of those faces that lights up a room," general manager Billy Beane said.

Nakajima, who has not yet found a home in the Bay Area, is running out of time right now. He's only going to be around a few more days, because he said he wants to make it to the A's training camp in Phoenix by Feb. 1.

Spring workouts don't begin for pitchers and catchers until Feb. 12 and for position players like Nakajima until Feb. 17, but he wants to be as prepared as possible for his first Major League spring training adventure.

"This is my mission," he said. "That's why I want to get there early, by Feb. 1. I want to dive into the atmosphere."

Spring workouts in Japan typically are double session. In the U.S., teams go with one session only, and until the Cactus League games begin, teams generally are finished working out by noon or 1 p.m.

That's just fine with Nakajima. Strange, but fine.

"In Japan, they take spring training a little too extreme," Nakajima said. "I appreciate this."