The Oakland A's are off to somewhat of a slow start to their spring, with their record standing at 2-4 and their offense being mostly in hibernation in the six games thus far. However, there have been some strong early performances in camp.
Among the guys fighting for jobs, Aaron Cunningham and Rajai Davis have had the most notable early spring performances. Cunningham has four hits, including two doubles, in eight at-bats. He has also walked twice. Davis is three-for-nine with a double, a triple and three RBIs. He has also stolen a base. Shortstop Bobby Crosby, who will likely be regulated to a back-up role once the A's announce the signing of Orlando Cabrera, has gotten off to a good start at the plate. He is four-for-nine with a homer and two runs scored.
Daric Barton and Travis Buck are seemingly competing with each other for a spot in the A's everyday line-up and both are off to decent starts. Buck is batting only .231 in a team-high 13 at-bats, but he has walked twice and homered once. He has been batting lead-off in most of the A's spring games, perhaps an indication of where he will hit in manager Bob Geren's line-up during the regular season if he wins a job coming out of camp. Barton has been limited to only five at-bats thus far this spring as he makes his way back from off-season hip surgery. He has two hits (both singles) and a walk in those five bats and he made a nice scoop on a low throw to first base during the A's win over a split Chicago White Sox squad on Wednesday.
Of the players who are not really in contention for 25-man roster spots who are looking more to make a strong impression on the A's front office, Matt Carson, Tagg Bozied, Yung-Chi Chen and Corey Wimberly are off to good starts. Carson, an outfielder who signed a minor league free agent contract this past off-season, is three for his first five with a run scored and a stolen base. Carson had spent his entire career in the New York Yankees' chain before the start of this spring. Bozied, a first baseman, is three for his first six with an RBI and a walk. Wimberly, acquired by the A's earlier this month for Matt Murton, is three for seven with two runs scored, an RBI and two stolen bases. He led the Texas League in stolen bases last season when he was in the Colorado Rockies' chain. Chen is three for his first five with a double and a triple. The triple came in Wednesday's game and was a laser shot off of the infielder's bat.
Of the A's players assured of starting the season on the 25-man roster, Ryan Sweeney is off to the best start. The A's centerfielder is seven-for-13 with a double, a homerun, three RBIs, a walk and no strike-outs.
On the mound, the A's have had a number of impressive performances, especially from their younger pitchers. Dana Eveland is staking a strong claim to a spot in the A's rotation. He has yet to allow a hit in four innings. He has walked two and struck-out two. Sean Gallagher, another likely member of the A's rotation, has allowed one run on six hits in four innings with two walks and two strike-outs. Dallas Braden, the A's fifth starter for much of last season, was perfect in two innings in his first outing. He pitches again today.
The competition for the final spot in the A's rotation promises to be one of the most entertaining battles in camp. Lefty Gio Gonzalez is off to a good start, allowing one run on two hits in four innings. He hasn't walked a batter and he has struck-out three. It seems likely with a good spring that Gonzalez would have the inside track on a rotation spot. Fellow lefty Josh Outman has allowed four runs (two earned) in four innings with two walks and three strike-outs. Minor league free agent signings Jerome Williams and Edgar Gonzalez have gotten off to mixed starts. Williams pitched well in his first outing, but allowed two runs in his second outing, both coming on a long homerun by White Sox's prospect Dayán Viciedo. He has yet to strike-out a batter in four innings. Edgar Gonzalez had a rough first inning as an A's pitcher, but settled down to pitch two good innings after that. In three innings, he has allowed two runs on four hits with four strike-outs and no walks. He pitches again today, as well.
The A's heralded pitching prospects are making an impression, as well. Vince Mazzaro, Scout.com's Oakland A's Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2008, has yet to allow a run in three innings. He has not walked a batter and has struck-out four while allowing three hits. He has been keeping the ball on the ground with his trademark sinker, as well. James Simmons, the A's first-round pick in 2007, has been spinning a much improved curveball this spring and that curveball helped him strike-out three in an outing on Wednesday. He has allowed three runs in three innings, all of them coming in his first outing. Trevor Cahill was very impressive in his debut at major league camp, tossing two perfect innings with two strike-outs. Top A's prospect Brett Anderson has been a little shaky, walking two and striking out none while allowing two runs in three innings. Tyson Ross, the A's second round pick in the 2008 draft, has tossed two scoreless innings and earned a save in one of the A's two wins.
The A's relievers have also pitched well, for the most part. Santiago Casilla, who battled elbow injuries last season, hasn't allowed a run in 2.1 innings of work. Joey Devine, who is likely to close out a lot of games for the A's this season, has allowed only a hit and a walk in two scoreless innings. Jeff Gray, who was a September call-up for Oakland last season, has tossed two scoreless innings, while free agent signing Chris Schroder has not allowed a run in his two innings, as well. Free agent signing Russ Springer has allowed a run in two innings and he has three strike-outs and no walks. Youngsters Andrew Bailey, Arnold Leon and Jared Lansford have also yet to allow a run.
Minor League Camp Game Schedule
The A's minor league camp opens on March 13th, with game play beginning on March 18th. Oakland will play affiliates from the Angels, Giants and Cubs organizations this spring. All games at Papago Park are free admission.
The A's will open up with two days of games against Angels' affiliates on March 18th and 19th. On the 18th, Triple-A and Double-A squads will battle at the Angels' minor league complex, while the two single-A affiliates will battle at the A's home at Papago Park. The schedule is reversed on March 19th. After a camp day of intrasquad games on March 20th, the A's minor league affiliates will take on the Chicago Cubs on March 21st, with Triple-A and Double-A in Mesa and the single-A affiliates at Papago.
After another camp day on March 22nd, the A's minor leaguers will play games on five consecutive days. On March 23rd, the A's will take on the San Francisco Giants, with Triple-A and Double-A battling at Papago and the two single-A affiliates will play in Scottsdale. On the 24th, the A's will take on the Angels once again, with Triple-A and Double-A at home and the two single-A affiliates on the road. The next day, the A's take on the Cubs, with Triple-A and Double-A on the road and the single-A affiliates at home. On the 26th, San Francisco will be the opponent, with Triple-A and Double-A at home and the single-A affiliates on the road. On the 27th, it will be the Angels again, followed by the Cubs on the 28th, with Triple-A and Double-A on the road on the 27th and at home on the 28th (with the opposite being true for the single-A affiliates).
After a camp day on the 29th, the A's will take on the Angels, Giants, Cubs, Angels and Cubs in that order from March 30th-April 3rd. Triple-A and Double-A are home on April 1st and April 2nd, while the single-A affiliates are home on March 30th, 31st and April 3rd. The A's will finish off minor league spring training with two camp days on April 4th and 5th and then a travel day on April 6th when the players assigned to full-season affiliates jet off to their new home cities.
Denorfia Off To Good Start For Team Italy
Chris Denorfia is battling for a spot on the A's 25-man roster from afar – Florida, to be exact. He is with Team Italy as part of the World Baseball Classic tournament. The outfielder has competed in two exhibition games against major league teams thus far and is four-for-six in those two games.
A's Spring Notes: Early Standouts
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