Donaldson Still Front-Runner For A's 3B Job

PHOENIX - Josh Donaldson hasn't put up great numbers this spring, but it appears the third base job will remain his unless the Oakland A's look for an option outside the organization.

The A's don't know what they will get out of the former catcher both defensively and at the plate, so it's possible the club could turn to Eric Sogard should Josh Donaldson struggle to start the year.

Bob Melvin made that much apparent on Sunday, indicating lifetime minor leaguer Wes Timmons is likely on the outside looking in despite hitting .321 in the Cactus League.

"(Donaldson) is still our first option. (Sogard's) probably a guy we would look to get some reps over there as well. Timmons is still doing his thing this camp. He's still here. There are some games left to be played and we'll see what the roster composition is as far as the 30 going to Japan," Melvin said.

With the A's leaving for the Japan in less than a week, it would likely take an injury to change the third base situation for the team's two-game set against the Mariners. The versatility of Adam Rosales and Sogard will likely land them on the 30-man roster for the trip.

Donaldson's lackluster .239/.294/.283 spring line is not an issue at this point in the season. He says he's swinging as well as he ever as. But he doesn't have much major-league experience to fall back on. His only stint with the A's came in September of 2010, where he hit just .156 with a 487 OPS in 14 games.

Melvin hasn't said how long he would stick with Donaldson should he struggle, but the team hasn't shown patience with struggling rookies in recent years.

Top prospects Chris Carter and Michael Taylor -- who were sent down to minor league camp on Sunday -- are prime examples. They have only appeared in 39 and 11 major league games, respectively and were not given the time to work out of their struggles at the plate at the big league level despite the A's not being in playoff contention.

Donaldson's glove appears to be ready to handle the major leagues, but it's still should be considered an unknown. Having played the better part of his five minor league seasons behind the plate, Donaldson hasn't spent the majority of his time at the hot corner since college.

"I feel great over there. It's just one of things where you're just getting back to just playing over there routinely. I feel like I've gotten all the plays I'm going to see during the year pretty much," Donaldson said.

"I feel really good over there. My arm feels great. My body feels good. I'm ready to get after it."

The Auburn alum has made seven errors in 140 minor league chances at third, a pretty small sample size. Eric Sogard has an even smaller sample at third of just 25 games at all levels, but hasn't committed an error there. A career fielding percentage of above .970 at shortstop bodes well for the utility infielder. Adam Rosales has a .949 career minor league mark at third.

"This game's all about opportunity and making the most of your opportunity. Getting that momentum to stand up and rise to the top of your game when you're faced with that challenge," Rosales said about his prospects at third base.

"You just got to view it as a challenge and do your best to not put too much pressure on yourself."

Rosales has struggled this spring, hitting .143 in games, while Sogard has done well with a line of .351/.429/.595 and 1023 OPS.

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