Parrino's glove shining in Sacramento

It's been a rough year at the plate for Andy Parrino. While some would take to the punching bag to deal with their frustrations, the River Cats infielder would rather rob opposing hitters by making great defensive plays. On the team's latest road trip, he did so regularly.

His best might have come June 13 in Reno, when he dove to his to field a hard-hit, one-hopper deep in the hole to his right, got up quickly and fired across the diamond to a stretching Daric Barton to get the out.

There were others, but Parrino couldn't name a favorite.

"Probably any of that kept any runs from scoring. I don't really remember all of them," he said.

Parrino's .183/.270/.305 slash line with Triple-A Sacramento leaves plenty to be desired at the plate. But when the Athletics acquired him in the trade that sent Tyson Ross to San Diego, it wasn't necessarily for his bat. There wasn't much depth defensively at the top of the organization with Cliff Pennington having already been moved to the Diamondbacks.

Now, River Cats manager Steve Scarsone has to rotate three shortstops in the lineup with Jemile Weeks and Hiro Nakajima needing at-bats. Each night features a different combination of infielders making it tough to find a routine.

"I think he understands that and I think that's why he takes such detailed effort towards his defense – that makes him so good," Scarsone said.

"I'd love to play to play him at shortstop every day, but unfortunately I have 12 positions players that need playing time. It's kind of tough on my end, but when he's out there I feel better."

There's little doubt Parrino is one of the River Cats' two best defensive players along with Barton. And with Grant Green, Weeks and Nakajima all learning new positions across the infield, he's done what he can to help them out even if they are sapping some of his at-bats.

"Somebody that might not be comfortable over there, if I can help them be comfortable and give them a couple clues or hints here and there, it's just going to make him more comfortable and he'll perform better that way," Parrino said.

With Adam Rosales hurt early in the year, Parrino was given a big league job in April for 15 days, notching just three hits in 24 at-bats with the A's. When he was sent down to Triple-A, the switch-hitter's struggles continued.

"We've had numerous talks about that," Scarsone said. "He'll come in and tell me he's frustrated at the plate and all that. The first thing I tell him is, ‘how valuable are you to this ball club with your defense and why did you get an opportunity to go up early in the season when the bat hadn't started yet?'"

His 575 OPS this year with the River Cats is a far cry from the .328/.400/.464 slash line he had last season in 65 games with Triple-A Tucson. And his 762-career minor league OPS over his seven-year career would indicate he's due to break out at any point.

For now, it's likely Parrino stays in Sacramento to continue receiving semi-regular at-bats while continuing to rotate with Weeks and Nakajima. But there's a very real possibility Nakajima's time in Oakland is coming, allowing him more time to show off the leather and get going at the plate.

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