He’s catching on

After the A’s second day of workouts wrapped up, manager Bob Geren went out of his way to praise catching prospect Josh Donaldson, who was acquired from the Cubs as part of last July’s Rich Harden trade. Donaldson, 23, is a long-range prospect (he didn’t start catching until his junior year at Auburn). But the A’s like his bat as well as his physical tools behind the plate. “I had some (discussion) with him about how many games he’s caught in his life,” Geren said. “He thought maybe 160. I told him that’s (close to) how many Kurt Suzuki caught last year. With the minimal exposure he has now, I think he can improve rapidly.” A former big league catcher himself, Geren said the biggest thing for a player who’s relatively new to catching is to master the fundamentals of the position. From there, learning how to handle pitchers and call a game comes with experience.

The backup catcher situation might merit paying attention to. The A’s re-signed Rob Bowen as the No. 2 man behind Suzuki, but the team also has Landon Powell in camp. A first-round pick in 2004, Powell’s career has been sidetracked by a knee injury, but he appears to be 100 percent now. Bowen has an edge in experience (his at-bats are few and far between because Suzuki logs so many innings as the starter). But Powell still has lots of upside and could force the A’s to make a decision if he has a big spring. And, of course, Donaldson figures to get his chance down the road …

Other Sunday bits:

–Ace Justin Duchscherer threw his first bullpen session, and he’s shown no lingering effects from right hip surgery last September.

— Geren, on whether third baseman Eric Chavez would be ready for the exhibition opener Feb. 25: “I have no reason now to say he wouldn’t be, but I want to see him in daily workouts first.”

–Trevor Cahill, the club’s other blue-chip pitching prospect along with Brett Anderson and Vin Mazzaro, threw Sunday. Catcher Anthony Recker, who was behind the plate for many of Cahill’s games last season in Double-A, also caught him Sunday, and said his fastball, curve and slider seemed sharp. “But I tell you what, I was really impressed with his change-up,” Recker said.

–In his morning chat w/reporters, Geren said competition should be fierce for what figures to be one or two available spots in the bullpen. Non-roster pitcher Jerome Williams doesn’t seem to be a candidate, as Geren said Williams is being considered primarily as a starter. Along those lines, it’s assumed that lefties Gio Gonzalez and Josh Outman will be considered for the ‘pen if they don’t open the season in the rotation. But judging from Geren’s comments over the offseason, I’m gathering that Outman is seen as being better suited for relief if it comes to that. This is speculation on my part, but I see Gonzalez beginning the season in the Triple-A rotation if he doesn’t crack Oakland’s starting five. …

That’s all for now …

Joe Stiglich

  • asfan09

    do you think williams can be that underrated find like a gaudin, saarloos, dinardo type in past yrs? his big issue basically has been getting fat and keeping in shape. also any cabrera updates since last week? i read houston is also showing some interest in crosby with the tejada situation

  • Oakland Si

    I saw Williams pitch when he first came up with the Giants, and I was impressed with his talent. If he’s gotten himself straightened out both mentally and physically he could be a terrific find.

  • Well, the A’s certainly could use a Saarloos/DiNardo type — a guy who could be called upon in a pinch to make a spot start. But as far as that fifth starter, I think they’d prefer to see Gio Gonzalez or Josh Outman, one of the young guys, step up and claim a rotation spot. … Not much else I’ve heard on the Cabrera front. While the A’s would probably like to unload Crosby’s salary if they did sign Cabrera, if they couldn’t find a taker, they could do worse than having Crosby as a jack-of-all-trades utility infielder.