Eric Sogard was quietly one of the most valuable players on the 2010 Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, and he will be an important part of their roster in 2011, at least in the early going. The infielder was one of the last players cut from the Oakland A's spring roster, as he battled major league veteran Andy LaRoche for the utility infield position on Oakland's 25-man roster.
Although Sogard lost out to LaRoche this spring, Sogard demonstrated in 2010 that he is likely to have a major league career. The Arizona State alum was among the league leaders in pitches seen per at-bat and he hit .300/.391/.407 for the year despite getting off to a very slow start in April. Sogard was the team's top defensive infielder, especially at his natural position, second base. In four games with the A's in late September, Sogard collected three hits and two walks in seven official at-bats.
Sogard saw a lot of time at shortstop towards the end of the 2010 season and again this spring. Last week, we spoke with Sogard about his first season in the A's organization, his transition to different infield positions, his approach at the plate and more…
OaklandClubhouse: How has it been going playing shortstop and some third base, really moving around the diamond?
Eric Sogard: I'm enjoying it a lot. I got to play the last month and a half at short in Sacramento and I got comfortable there. It is the position I grew up playing my whole life until college. In college I got to move around the infield quite a bit, so I feel comfortable pretty much all over the infield.
OC: Is there one aspect of moving to short from second base that is the most difficult?
ES: Mainly the footwork. You have to constantly be moving your feet. At second, you can get away with sitting back on the ball. At short, you really have to keep your feet moving to cut down the angles and that sort of thing.
OC: Last year was your first year in the organization and you made it all the way to the big leagues. How different is it this spring when you know everybody and you are competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster?
ES: It's exciting. I'm comfortable around the guys and I know all of the guys, so I can relax and do my own thing. Hopefully they'll give me an opportunity to be up there and be the utility guy.
OC: Last year you had a really slow start with Sacramento and then got into a groove after that. Was there an adjustment or was it just getting warmed up to the season?
ES: It was actually just getting into the swing of it. I actually switched bat models which I don't know if that was the reason, but after that, things went great.
OC: You'll be sticking with that bat model for awhile.
ES: Exactly. I felt comfortable again and that helped out.
OC: What's your approach when you are up there at the plate?
ES: I like to see a lot of pitches and understand what the pitcher is trying to do and get on base anyway that I can so the big guys can drive me in.
ES: I'm around them all day learning everything I can from them. They are unbelievable players, guys who I have looked up to throughout my career. I get whatever I can take from them.
OC: What was it like to get your first big league hit?
ES: It was something that I will never forget. Even though it was on the road, the crowd was amazing. They gave me a nice ovation. It was very memorable.