OAKLAND -- Kyle Blanks has essentially been living out of his suitcase the past couple of months.
On Monday, he took the field for his first home game with the A's at O.co Coliseum as the starting first baseman, batting eighth. The 27-year-old said the A's clubhouse has been welcoming, but he's grown weary of life on the road.
Blanks started the season with the Padres at Triple-A El Paso, where the home stadium wasn't finished for nearly a month to start the year due to construction. After making five appearances with San Diego, Blanks was traded and joined the A's in Cleveland before continuing the lengthy road trip to Tampa Bay and Toronto.
"It's nice to try and finally settle and have somewhere to leave my stuff and kind of take a deep breath," Blanks said. "Just somewhere to have a baseline and have a frame of reference to kind of go from and work from there. In El Paso, we started with 25 on the road. I need a few days to decompress for sure."
Blanks said he's enjoyed a good dialogue with manager Bob Melvin since joining the A's on May 15. It's also been nice knowing that he can focus solely on first base after shuttling between that position and the outfield the past few years.
"The first conversation I had [with Melvin] I was told my role and 'This is what you're going to do,'" Blanks said. "It's pretty obvious the way the lineup seems to flip here. It's more of a matchup game, but it's definitely nice to know coming in -- this is what we see, this is what we like, this is what you're going to do -- it's nice to have some idea of what's going on and what you're doing. That was definitely a nice breath of fresh air."
Entering play Monday, the right-handed-hitting Blanks was 2-for-11 (.182) with a couple of singles in his first five games with the A's. But as he noted, he's still getting used to the American League pitchers after spending his entire career with the Padres. In the second inning of Monday's game, Blanks went deep off Drew Smyly for his first homer of the year.
"It's always nice to get consistent at-bats," Blanks said. "But it's always a matter of staying focused and making the most of the opportunities when you're given them. I'm not going to freak out over five, six, 10 at-bats. I've been playing long enough to understand that it's not always great to put the utmost emphasis on results immediately."
Doolittle, A's honor veterans on Memorial Day
OAKLAND -- Major League Baseball tipped its cap to veterans and serving members of America's armed forces on Memorial Day Monday, as all 30 teams took the field wearing camouflage-styled uniforms and hats.
The holiday means a great deal to A's reliever Sean Doolittle, whose father is a retired Air Force veteran and whose stepmother is still on active duty for the National Guard.
Doolittle has become very involved with organizations like GovX, Freedom Alliance and Operation Finally Home, which all focus on helping veterans upon coming back to their home soil. The A's, Doolittle and GovX have teamed up to host "Salute to Service Sundays" which feature discounted tickets and special recognition for veterans.
"They're coming back with a lot of different types of injuries -- ones you can see and the PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and other things that you can't," Doolittle said. "They're trying to get reacclimated to civilian life, and for a lot of them it's really hard, it's a struggle. It's nice that we're remembering them today. I hope that over the coming years, Major League Baseball continues to do stuff like this so we can bring awareness and help them out a little bit more."
A's shuffle lineup for postseason rematch with Tigers
OAKLAND -- Detroit has ended the past two A's seasons in the American League Division Series with Game 5 victories at O.co Coliseum.
For the first time since they knocked out Oakland in the playoffs last year, the Tigers returned to the A's home ballpark Monday to begin a highly anticipated four-game series.
"We're very good at taking it day to day and just dealing with the team that we have to deal with," A's manager Bob Melvin said "But there is some history there. I think across the board, whether its fan interest or whatever, there's probably a little bit more to this series."
With his team riding a four-game losing streak, Melvin shook up the order by putting catcher Derek Norris in the No. 2 hole while dropping Jed Lowrie to fifth. Meanwhile, Josh Reddick sat for the second straight game with southpaw Drew Smyly on the mound, and Brandon Moss, who opened the scoring with a second-inning homer, was the team's only lefty in the lineup.
"You know what, when you're not scoring some runs, sometimes you try to change the scenery a little bit," Melvin said. "It's nothing more than that."
• Melvin said Nick Punto (hamstring) was available for a late substitution on Monday but that he'd like to stay away from using him. Punto and the A's are targeting a return to the starting lineup during the Tigers series.
• Catcher John Jaso (back tightness) was on the bench to start Monday's contest, and Melvin said the plan was to have Jaso start on Tuesday against Tigers righty Max Scherzer.
• Right-handed reliever Ryan Cook (forearm) is slated to throw a bullpen on Tuesday while southpaw reliever Eric O'Flaherty (Tommy John surgery recovery) will throw a simulated game on Thursday. Cook is eligible to be reinstated from the 15-day disabled list, but Melvin said Cook will have to throw a couple more bullpen sessions before getting back to game action.
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.