PHOENIX -- To this point, talk in the A's camp about Alberto Callaspo as a first baseman has been mostly speculative.

But the veteran infielder has been doing work on defense at first base, and manager Bob Melvin said Callaspo will make an appearance in a game soon.

He's been working on the back field at Phoenix Municipal Stadium during early workouts, and Wednesday he was part of the rotation at first base when the club was doing infield drills.

"There's nothing he does baseball skill-wise that suggests he couldn't (play first base),'' Melvin said. "He's got terrific hands ... he's played on the corner on the other side as well as in the middle. As far as the skill set goes, there's no reason he shouldn't be able to be a very good first baseman.''

The A's have two left-handed first base candidates in Brandon Moss and Daric Barton, but the only right-handed first base candidate is Nate Freiman, who did a nice job last year as a Rule 5 free agent, a player the A's had to keep on the roster as per Rule 5 rules.

This year, however, the rules say Freiman can be sent down, and with the A's in a roster crunch, that might happen. But it would only make sense if the A's, who like the thought of a platoon at first base, have a right-handed alternative.

Enter Callaspo, who has played mostly second and third base during his time in the big leagues, although he has experience at short, in left and in right. He's never played a game in the big leagues at first base.

  • Jarrod Parker looked closer to his old self Wednesday, pitching into the fourth inning for the A's against the Milwaukee Brewers in Maryvale, Ariz.

    He threw three shutout innings and had retired seven consecutive hitters before Ryan Braun opened the fourth with a homer. Parker wound up giving up two hits and two walks in 31/3 innings, striking out one in a sloppy game the A's lost 7-2.

    It was the second start of the spring for Parker, who gave up six runs in 11/3 innings Friday against the Giants, a game the A's came back to win.

    "A lot of times, that's the case,'' manager Bob Melvin said in charting Parker's improvement from his first start to his second. "There was a little bit more rhythm.''

    The manager wasn't too put out by the Braun homer, which came on a Parker changeup.

    "(The pitch) came back to him a little bit,'' Melvin said. "The ball's down. Two strikes, (Braun) is probably looking to go the other way.''

    The probable opening-day starter for Oakland -- Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray are also potential candidates to start against the Indians in the Coliseum on March 31 -- Parker doesn't have to pitch his way into the rotation after having won 25 games the last two seasons.

    But he likely needs to pitch closer to the command and presence he had in a stretch of 18 starts May 28-Sept. 4, when he went 9-0 with a 2.59 ERA, if he's going to get the opening-day start.

  • Longtime minor league outfielder Michael Taylor was struggling before Melvin pulled him aside Tuesday and told him to just be himself. The outfielder is out of options, so the A's could lose him if he doesn't make the 25-man roster.

    Taylor had three hits Tuesday after the talk with Melvin, then hit a solo homer and a double Wednesday. The five hits have his average up to .333.

    "You know what, if I made him relax, OK,'' Melvin said. "But it's the player who's doing it. He's putting together a lot of good at-bats.''

    The last couple of days suggest Taylor, a career .292 minor league hitter but just a .135 hitter in limited big league time, is on track, although there is scant room left in the Oakland outfield. The A's don't like to lose players once they're out of options, however, so if he continues to play well, something might happen.

    "I have to give Bob a lot of credit,'' Taylor said. "He actually called me in and talked to me about just playing. He was right. I can't really worry about my situation or what's going on, or thinking about a thousand different situations that could come up. I just have to play and enjoy it, and he kind of gave me a vote of confidence, and it relaxed me a bit. I kind of just felt free to play, and that's when I'm at my best.''

  • Reliever Ryan Cook will throw for the first time this spring off a bullpen mound Thursday. His shoulder problems seem to have cleared up, so the question now is if he'll be ready by opening day.

  • Stephen Vogt, in a battle for a spot on the roster as one of the catchers, had three hits Wednesday and is hitting .538 for the spring.

  • The A's made three errors on defense while the Oakland pitchers were walking eight. "We're behind (in the count), we're walking guys,'' Melvin said, "and defenders aren't on their toes. Typically we don't do that. ''