Murky Middle Infield Waters Become a Little Clearer for the Athletics


It’s been an extremely hot topic throughout the Athletics camp in Phoenix.  We’ve certainly had no shortage of discussions about it right here.  We thought some tough decisions were going to have to be made.  But alas, things have worked themselves out in the Athletics middle infield logjam, but not anywhere near the manner in which the Athletics had hoped.

Throughout the Cactus League schedule, the presumed battle between Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks for the starting second base job was supposed to dominate much of the conversation.  That didn’t happen because Jemile Weeks hurt his shoulder, and was relatively unproductive after his return and has already been optioned.  Sizemore has been underwhelming as he works his way back into everyday baseball form after missing 2012.  Jed Lowrie‘s highly productive spring has all but ensured him a spot in the lineup everyday, although perhaps not at the same position everyday.

Mar 19, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima (3) jogs off the field after the third inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Then there’s Hiroyuki Nakajima, everyone’s “Super Hiro” as the ItsOpeningDay Designs shirt cleverly displays.  He was the one member of the middle infield annointed as a starter at the beginning of camp by Manager Bob Melvin.  Hiro didn’t exactly impress though, posting a paltry .167/.286/.190 line in 46 plate appearances.  Nakajima though is still adjusting to life in the United States, not to mention an entirely new league to learn.  Many have become impatient, wanting to see the same guy who we all saw driving the ball and showboating after hitting no doubt home runs.  He hasn’t arrived yet, and chances are we’ll have to wait a little while longer to see that guy because Nakajima pulled up lame advancing to second base on a sac bunt this afternoon.  Hiro’s strained hamstring could give the A’s an excuse to not place him on the 25-man roster if they can justify a DL stint and a “rehab” assignment for him in Triple A.  This could serve a dual purpose for the A’s in getting Nakajima a little more time to get comfortable, and also buy some time to evaluate another middle infielder.

That middle infielder goes by the name of Eric Sogard, and he’s torn up the Cactus League.  The injury to Nakajima, and the announcement today that Adam Rosales will start the season on the DL with an intercostal strain seems to all but ensure Sogard’s presence on the 25-man roster come Monday night.  Whether he’ll be in the starting lineup is an entirely different story.

You can probably write Jed Lowrie’s name on your scorebook right now at the shortstop position for Monday’s opener.  It remains to be seen whether Eric Sogard or Scott Sizemore is his double play partner.  We know though that the Athletics tried to improve their depth in order to deal with situations like this with multiple injuries, and that depth will be immediately put to the test.  So we’ll see pretty quickly whether or not Billy Beane has done enough to make this team a contender once again.