Oakland infield might remain a mix-and-match unit
No one expected that things would go entirely smoothly for Hiro Nakajima this spring as he plays professionally in the United States for the first time.
In 13 spring games with the Oakland A's through Monday, the Japanese shortstop is batting .194 and had committed three errors, although one of the defensive miscues actually was the fault of another infielder.
The A's have not made any long-term decisions on their middle infield spots -- and it's entirely possible that, just like last year, the infield positions in general will be a fluid situation.
Oakland likes to maximize options, and there are several of them. If Nakajima is hitting, he's likely to be at shortstop. However, he also can play second base, and if the A's decide that Jed Lowrie is the superior defensive player at shortstop, as most scouts believe, that could be the middle-infield alignment.
Lowrie also could be the starting third baseman.
Scott Sizemore, a front-office favorite, remains a strong possibility for second base, or even third if needed there for any reason. Like Nakajima, Sizemore is off to a slow start this spring, batting .182 in 14 games -- and like Nakajima, there is good reason for that: Sizemore missed all of last season after tearing a knee ligament the first day of the spring training.
Sizemore and Jemile Weeks have options left, so both men are possibly candidates to bounce up and down from Triple-A Sacramento, much as Eric Sogard, Adam Rosales and Brandon Hicks did last year.
"We'll run our best lineup out there," manager Bob Melvin said.
Lowrie is having one the best springs of all the A's infielders, batting .313 with two homers in 13 games. At the top of the list is Sogard, who is batting .516 over 16 games. Given the fact that the A's see Sogard as a backup type, it's unlikely he'd be given the everyday second base job.
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