A’s fall flat in spring opener 

The A’s opened up the exhibition season with the Chicago Cubs Thursday. Marlon Byrd homered in his Cubs debut, one of five home runs in Chicago’s 16-hit, 9-3 victory over the A’s.

Trevor Cahill didn’t exactly show he deserves to be the No. 5 starter. He gave up two runs on three hits in two innings and was tagged for a long homer by Derrek Lee after shaking off catcher Landon Powell.

“He wanted me to throw a fastball but ... I just really felt like throwing a changeup,” said Cahill, who went 10-13 as a rookie last season. “[Lee had taken] two aggressive swings, so I figured if I could keep the same arm speed and slow the pitch down, he’d swing right over it. But I hung it right down the middle, belt-high.”

Meanwhile, Oakland right-hander Jason Jennings, who signed with the A’s on Sunday, is scheduled to pitch in a game within a week.

Jennings threw live batting practice for the first time on Wednesday and will throw one more time in game-like situations before the A’s slot him into their pitching plans.

Jennings said his arm felt great the morning after his latest throwing session. The A’s plan to stretch him out as a starter or long relief. He moved to the bullpen with the Texas Rangers last year.

“Hopefully I can get into a game by Sunday,” Jennings said. “My arm feels good. I tried to stay on schedule at home with my own program.”

A’s manager Bob Geren said Thursday that he’d like to see Jennings throw again before deciding when he’ll appear in a contest.

“I’d like to give him one more outing this weekend,” Geren said. “But he’ll get into a real game within a week.”

NOTES: RHP Ben Sheets, signed to a $10 million contract after missing all of last season with an elbow injury that required surgery, is scheduled to make his A’s debut today against Milwaukee, his former team.

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