Sogard enjoys fan support and chance to be starter again

There’s no one wearing a wider smile these days than Eric Sogard.

It’s just the way he is. The fact that he’s made it into the semifinals of MLB Networks “The Face of MLB’’ competition gives him more reason to smile perhaps, but he’s never been one to need much encouragement.

In his fifth year in the Oakland organization, he’s the incumbent second baseman who has a decent chance of retaining his job with Cactus League games starting up today.

“It’s obvious the baseball is the most important thing,’’ he said. “I’m here to win a job, just like every year.’’

    He’s been a winner so far. Pitted in head-to-head competitions against the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki and the Giants’ Buster Posey, he’s been the fans’ choice on Twitter each time.

There are all kinds of Sogard memes floating around the internet promoting his candidacy, putting his face on every sort of picture.

“It’s kind of gotten a little out of control, but in a good way,’’ Sogard said Wednesday in the midst of his attest competition. He’s up (until 5 a.m. Thursday) against the Jays’ slugger Jose Bautista, and with Bautista offering to follow on Twitter anyone who votes for him, he could be a formidable foe.

“The whole thing cracks me up,’’ Sogard said. “There are all these pictures of me all over the place. They’ve done a good job of making it look real. A’s fans are relentless. They’re great.’’

Sogard, asked if he expects to be the A’s starting said baseman, says “I hope so.’’

“On opening day I think we’ll face a right-hander, and I hope I’ll be in there,’’ he said. “I hope what I did last year will help me now.’’

Sogard’s prime concern is that he might have a little trouble keeping up the blistering pace he set in the Cactus League last spring. He had 24 hits and averaged .444.

“If I hadn’t done that, I don’t think I would have made the team,’’ he said. “I hope I don’t have to put up those numbers now. But I need to show them again this year.’’

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.