Putting Their Best Foot Forward

With a 5-2 record and 63 runs scored in only seven games played, the Oakland A's are off to a fast start this spring, especially on the offensive-side of the ball. A number of the players who are off to the best starts are the newest members of the A's organization. We take a look at who's hot inside…

It's very early, of course, but the initial returns on the Oakland A's revamped roster have been promising. The A's have come out of the gate swinging this spring, winning five of seven games and averaging nine runs a game in the process. Oakland leads all major league teams with a .371 average and are first in baseball with a .596 slugging percentage.

The team's pitching has been less impressive. Oakland's pitching staff is in the middle-of-the-pack with a 5.02 ERA. On the positive-side, however, A's pitchers have allowed the fourth-fewest number of walks (19).

Below we take a look at the individual players who have gotten off to the best starts in camp.

THE HITTERS

Productive Newcomers
Todd Linden: Linden, who signed a minor-league deal this off-season, hasn't had a lot of at-bats so far this spring, but he has been nearly perfect in his limited opportunities. The switch-hitting outfielder has eight at-bats in six games and he has six hits and has scored six runs. Two of those hits have gone for extra-bases and Linden has also drawn a walk.

Brooks Conrad: Conrad, another minor-league free agent, has been one of the busiest A's players in early camp, and he has been productive. The infielder has eight hits in 15 at-bats with four runs scored, four doubles, one triple, one homer and six RBIs. He also shown versatility, appearing at second, third and short.

Wes Bankston: Bankston was claimed on waivers during the off-season and then was designated off of the A's 40-man roster just before the start of camp, but he cleared waivers and returned to the A's. The former Tampa prospect has gotten off to a good start with his new club, collecting five hits in eight at-bats. The first baseman has two doubles, six RBIs and three runs scored.

Jeff Fiorentino: The former Orioles prospect has impressed early in camp both with the bat and with the glove. The outfielder, who was a waiver-claim by the A's this off-season, has three hits in six at-bats. He has also walked twice and scored two runs. In addition, Fiorentino has made a couple of impressive plays in the outfield.

Mike Sweeney: The veteran Sweeney is making a push to win a roster spot with the A's. The former Kansas City Royals captain has seven hits in 14 at-bats. He has scored seven runs, hit three doubles, driven-in seven runs and even stolen a base.

Carlos Gonzalez: Gonzalez – one of the highly touted prospects acquired by Oakland from Arizona for Dan Haren – has lived up to his advanced billing thus far in camp. Not only has he impressed at the plate (he has five hits in 16 at-bats), Gonzalez has also opened a lot of eyes with his play in the field. In particular, he has impressed with his throwing arm, cutting down two runners on the bases from the outfield.

Emil Brown: Free-agent signee Brown has missed four games with the flu, but he has made-up for lost time when he has been on the field. The former Royals outfielder has five hits in 10 at-bats, including one double, and he has driven-in four.

Aaron Cunningham: Cunningham, another one of the prospects acquired for Haren, has impressed A's coaches with his energy and his hitting stroke. The outfielder has three hits in seven at-bats. He has scored three runs, doubled twice and driven-in two. Cunningham hit a walk-off double and he has stolen a base.

Hot Returning A's
Kurt Suzuki: In his first spring as the presumptive A's starting catcher, Suzuki is off to a fast start at the plate. He has seven hits in 12 at-bats, including two doubles. Suzuki, who has hit all over the line-up – including lead-off – this spring, has scored four runs.

Jack Cust: Cust got his Spring Training off to a great start when he cracked a grand-slam in his first at-bat. He has remained hot, collecting five hits in 11 at-bats. He has scored six runs, knocked two doubles and two homers. Cust has driven-in seven and has a team-high five walks.

Jack Hannahan: The utility infielder has been active this spring. He leads the team with 18 at-bats and has appeared in all but one game. Hannahan has seven hits in 18 at-bats, including three doubles. He has also walked twice.

Donnie Murphy: Hannahan's infield mate, Murphy, is also swinging the bat well this spring. Murphy has five hits and four RBIs in 13 at-bats. One of his hits was a homerun.

Gregorio Petit: In his first big league camp, Petit has made a good first impression. The smooth-fielding middle infielder has seven hits in 14 at-bats, including two doubles.

Jeff Baisley: Baisley has been a late-game replacement in five of the A's seven games. He has taken advantage of his plate appearances, collecting three hits in five at-bats with one RBI.

Richie Robnett: The powerful outfielder has appeared in only one game with the A's this spring, but he made his mark. The left-handed hitting slugger had two hits in three at-bats in the A's 23-5 rout of the Giants. One of Robnett's hits was a homer and the other was a triple. He drove-in four runs.

THE PITCHERS

Productive Newcomers
Troy Cate: Cate, who signed a minor-league deal with the A's this off-season, has thrown two scoreless innings this spring. The southpaw has allowed two hits and he has a strike-out.

Chris Gissell: Gissell's return from Japan has been successful thus far. The former Seibu Lion threw two perfect innings in his spring debut. He struck-out three.

Gio Gonzalez: The A's top pitching prospect, who was acquired in the Nick Swisher trade, had a good first appearance in the green-and-gold. The lefty overcame some nerves and threw two scoreless innings. He allowed three hits and one walk and he struck-out three. Gonzalez gets his first start on Thursday.

Greg Smith: Smith, who was acquired in the Haren trade, out-dueled former A's lefty Barry Zito in his first Oakland start. Smith threw two scoreless innings – only allowing one hit – and he struck-out two in the A's win over San Francisco on Saturday. Zito didn't even make it out of the first inning.

Fernando Hernandez: The A's Rule 5 pick is making a strong bid to stay with the big league team this season. The right-hander has made three appearances this spring. He has allowed one run on four hits and he struck-out one.

Hot Returning A's
Jerry Blevins: The lanky left-hander has thrown two scoreless innings this spring. Blevins allowed a hit and a walk, and he struck-out two.

Henry Rodriguez: The A's flame-throwing right-hander was impressive in his first outing in big-league camp. Rodriguez threw one scoreless inning. He allowed a hit, struck-out a batter, and, most importantly, didn't walk a batter.

James Simmons: The A's top pick in 2007 threw a perfect inning in his only appearance thus far in big league camp. The right-hander struck-out a batter in the frame.

Lenny DiNardo: DiNardo has started strong in the competition for a spot in the A's rotation. The left-hander has made two appearances, and he has allowed one run on seven hits in five innings. He has four strike-outs, one walk and he hit a batter.

Dan Meyer: Meyer found-out just before camp that he has another option year remaining, but he is working to force the A's not to use it. The lefty has allowed one run (on a solo homerun) in four innings. He has allowed three hits, one walk and has struck-out one batter. Meyer picked-up the save in the A's win on Tuesday.

Dallas Braden: Braden is also competing for a spot in the A's rotation. He was uneven in his first outing, but was better in his second appearance. In total, he has allowed two runs in five innings. Braden has been touched for five hits and three walks, but he has struck-out three and retired eight in a row at one point in his outing on Wednesday.


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