Athletics starting lineup for spring opener against Rockies shines light on shortstop competition

The Athletics will have several positional battles during spring training. Today's lineup highlights the fight for playing time at short.
Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels
Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Spring training games are finally upon us as the Athletics open up their schedule against the Rockies at 12:05 PST at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona. Colorado will be a split squad, as the other half of their roster will face off against the Diamondbacks.

2023 phenom Joe Boyle will take the mound to open up the Athletics spring season, and it was reported earlier this week that Joey Estes should get some time on the mound today as well.

Boyle had an incredible three-game stretch in September. He's been notoriously wild in the minors but during his time in Oakland, he walked just 8% of batters. While he's most likely going to start the year at Triple-A Las Vegas, if Boyle can reign in the walks he's a massive breakout candidate.

Athletics starting lineup for spring opener vs. Rockies


Esteury Ruiz (R)


Zack Gelof (R)


Seth Brown (L)


Brent Rooker (R)


Shea Langeliers (R)


JJ Bleday (L)


Aledmys Diaz (R)


Abraham Toro (S)


Nick Allen (R)


Joe Boyle (R)


One of the main things that sticks out about this lineup is the inclusion of Nick Allen at shortstop. Allen played 106 games for the Athletics in 2023, all but one of which came at short. He's a capable defender there but struggled heavily at the plate. He posted a 55 wRC+, meaning he was 45% below league average on offense.

It's been widely speculated that prospect Darell Hernaiz would get the first look at the six, but the A's have other plans. GM David Forst spoke highly of Allen and his improved performance down the stretch. We'll have to wait and see how he looks during the spring, but it will be an exciting competition between the two.

JJ Bleday gets the start in center field over Esteury Ruiz. The latter worked through injury issues in 2023 so if Bleday can stay healthy, it'll give Ruiz the option to work at the less physically demanding defensive position and hopefully save some energy for the full season.

First pitch will be at 12:05 PST. The Rockies will be throwing Peter Lambert (RHP) out, along with prospect Alan Trejo at short, 2023 sensation Nolan Jones in the outfield, and All-Star catcher Elias Diaz behind the plate.