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Competition is on for A’s backup infielder spot

Position players continue to trickle into A’s camp. I saw Conor Jackson and second base prospect Adrian Cardenas this morning. Word is that Hideki Matsui will be here Saturday, but I’m not sure if he’ll be addressing the media then or wait until Sunday, which is the reporting deadline.

Adam Rosales will wear a walking boot on his right foot for two more weeks, so he won’t be hitting the field any time soon. That means there’s open competition for the backup infielder spot, and the ability to play shortstop is key for whoever claims it. Among the candidates manager Bob Geren touched on this morning:

Steve Tolleson: I’d put this guy as the front runner. He got his feet wet with 25 games in the majors last season and did a capable job. Tolleson spent more time at shortstop than any other position last season at Triple-A Sacramento, but he can also play third base, second base and left field.

Eric Sogard: The A’s like this Arizona State alum, especially for his bat. He’s also the only one of the backup infield candidates who’s already on the 40-man roster, but Geren said that wouldn’t be a factor. “The best guys will be on the team.” Sogard is more of a second baseman, though the A’s have exposed him to shortstop.

Andy LaRoche: The most intriguing name, just because he was such a highly touted prospect for the Dodgers. LaRoche didn’t pan out with the Pirates over the past two-plus seasons, and he’s never played shortstop in his professional career (third base is his main position). But Geren said LaRoche, Sogard and Tolleson will get most of the innings at short until starter Cliff Pennington is ready. Pennington is being brought along slowly after offseason surgery on his left shoulder.

Josh Horton: A’s farm director Keith Lieppman has raved to me in the past about Horton, a 2007 second-round pick. Geren identified Horton as the strongest defensive shortstop of all the candidates based on reports he’s gotten. He said he hasn’t seen Horton much in person.

Grant Green: Finally, the name you were waiting for, right? The 2009 first-round pick enjoyed a fine offensive year with Single-A Stockton in 2010 but still has a long way to go defensively. Since Green was drafted, there’s been speculation about him moving to third base or second base. For now, he’s a shortstop. “He’s still a ways away,” Geren said. Green is expected to begin the season at Double-A Midland, and the A’s consider Double-A a good measuring stick for how close a prospect is to being big-league ready.

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A’s minor league recap: A lost day on the farm

A rough day for the A’s minor leaguers as all three teams in action suffered losses, including one on a walkoff homer.

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm Wednesday for the A’s affiliates:

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

The RiverCats had an off day on Wednesday and send James Simmons to the mound Thursday night as they begin a four-game series against Tacoma (Mariners).

Sacramento got hot-hitting Tommy Everidge from Double-A Midland to replace Daric Barton, who was promoted to the A’s. Everidge, who hit .306 with eight homers and 53 RBI for Midland, went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his RiverCats’ debut Tuesday night.

Travis Buck is 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI and two strikeouts while on rehab assignment the past two games for the Cats.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Corpus Christi 8, RockHounds 1: Story l Boxscore

The RockHounds couldn’t handle Hooks’ lefty Polin Trinidad, who pitched seven innings of one-hit ball and retired the last 20 batters he faced in picking up his second straight win over Midland. Trinidad’s batterymate was former Castro Valley High and Stanford star Jason Castro, who made his Double-A debut by going 1-for-4. Castro was the Astros’ No. 1 pick last June, the 10th overall selection.

Jason Fernandez (6-5) took the loss for the ‘Hounds. He allowed just one earned run in 4 2/3 innings.

Josh Horton had two of Midland’s three hits, including his third homer of the season, and is hitting .303. Chris Carter had the only other Midland hit.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Modesto (Rockies) 8, Ports 2: Story l Boxscore

The Ports’ June Swoon continued as Modesto handed Stockton its ninth consecutive defeat, which dropped the Ports to 1-10 this month.

Scott Hodsdon was hit hard by the Nuts, giving up 11 hits and seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. Hodsdon fell to 2-6 and his ERA dropped to 6.64. In contrast, Modesto’s Christian Friedrich, the Rockies’ No. 1 pick last year, pitching seven strong innings to pick up the win.

Catcher Yusuf Carter was named the Ports’ lone California League All-Star representative earlier in the week.

Jemile Weeks went 1-for-3 while hitting in the third spot and is now batting .340.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Wisconsin 7, Cougars 4: Story l Boxscore

Wisconsin’s Brock Kjeldgaard hit a three-run, walkoff homer in the bottom of the ninth to snap the Cougars’ three-game winning streak.

Grant Desme (2nd round, ’07) homered for the second straight game and now has 11. Desme is hitting .350 with five homers and 15 RBI in his last 10 games.

Catcher Petey Paramore, last year’s third-round pick, went 3-for-4 with his second homer of the season and is hitting .290.

Anthony Capra had a decent start, allowing just three hits and two runs in five innings. However, he did walk five.

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A’s minor league recap: Gio Gonzalez is on a roll for RiverCats

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm Wednesday for the A’s affiliates:

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

RiverCats 3, Salt Lake City (Angels) 1: Story l Boxscore

Gio Gonzalez had his second consecutive dominant showing for the RiverCats, who improved to a PCL-best 33-30. Gonzalez (2-1, 3.50) went six innings, allowing just two hits and one run. He walked just two and struck out five. In his last two starts, Gonzalez has gone a total of 13 innings and given up just four hits and one run.

Gonzalez, Dana Eveland, Sean Gallagher and James Simmons are shaping up to be a rather solid rotation for the Cats.

Daric Barton, still batting an uninspiring .223, broke a 1-all tie with a two-out, RBI single in the seventh inning. Barton then scored on a double by Eric Patterson.

Eric Munson, the Cats’ catcher and cleanup hitter, went 2-for-5 with an RBI.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

RockHounds 16, NW Arkansas (Royals) 8: Story l Boxscore

Matt Spencer’s grand slam keyed a seven-run first inning as the RockHounds pounded Northwest Arkansas. Tommy Everidge and Adrian Cardenas each drove in three runs for Midland, which also got three hits and three runs each from Josh Horton and Archie Gilbert.

Chris Carter drove in a pair of runs and now has 42 in 51 games. The first baseman also has an on-base percentage of .396 and an OPS of .886.

Jason Fernandez improved to 3-0 since arriving from Stockton. He scattered 11 hits and allowed two runs in five innings.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

San Jose (Giants) 4, Ports 2: Story l Boxscore

Ben Hornbeck allowed three runs in the first two innings, including a pair on a two-run Nick Noonan single, and took the loss as Stockton fell in San Jose. Hornbeck, who has lost two straight starts after a 5-0 start, went 4 2/3 innings and struck out seven.

Christian Vitters (10th round, ’06), accounted for the Ports’ runs with a two-run home run in the fifth. Jemile Weeks (1st round, ’08) went 1-for-4 with a double in the ninth and is hitting .333 in seven games (11-for-33).

San Jose starter Garrett Broshuis, a 27-year-old who spent the past three seasons at Double-A Connecticut, went seven strong innings for the win, allowing both Stockton runs.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Cougars 3, Clinton (Mariners) 1: Story l Boxscore

Kenny Smalley (24th round, ’08) shut down Clinton to improve to 5-1 and lower his ERA to 1.69. Smalley went six innings, allowing five hits and one run, walking one and striking out four.

Grant Desme smashed his ninth homer of the season to provide an insurance run in the ninth. Jeremy Barfield went 1-for-3 with a pair of RBI and is hitting .348, but saw his streak of five straight multi-hit games come to an end.

Chris Berroa (11th round, ’08) joined the Cougars from extended spring training. He went 0-for-4 in his season debut while batting leadoff and playing left field.

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A’s minor league recap: Rivercats win in 16; Weeks homers again

Here’s a look at the A’s minor league leaders as well as a brief look at what happened down on the farm Friday for their affiliates:
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A’s minor league recap: Simmons shines in Sacramento

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm Friday for the A’s affiliates:

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

RiverCats 8, Albuquerque (Dodgers) 1: Story l Boxscore

Former 2007 1st-round pick James Simmons turned in his most impressive start of the season. He had a one-hit shutout after six innings and finished with a three-hitter in a season-high seven innings. Simmons allowed just one run and one walk and struck out three.

Daric Barton went 2-for-4 to stretch his hitting streak to nine games. Thanks to a .298 average in May, Barton’s now batting a season-high .211. Eric Patterson went 5-for-5 and is now hitting .314. Patterson has been starting in center field lately for the Cats.

When the A’s decide they need to bring up a lefty specialist in the bullpen, one possibility is former San Jose State pitcher Brad Kilby, a Sacramento area native who was Oakland’s 29th round pick in 2005. He’s probably behind both Jerry Blevins and Jay Marshall in the A’s pecking order at Sacramento. To be sure, a call-up to the majors would be a dream come true for the 26-year-old, whose career nearly ended last Halloween when he was hit in the head by a line drive during winter ball.

Speaking of relievers, Albuquerque’s Nick DeBarr, a former Amador Valley High standout, gave up two runs in two innings Friday. The Isotopes’ bullpen includes two former East Bay Athletic League pitchers in DeBarr and Livermore’s Erick Threets.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

San Antonio (Padres) 9, RockHounds 3: Story l Boxscore

Bad fielding was apparently contagious in the A’s organization Friday as the RockHounds did Oakland one better (worse?) by committing five errors _ all in the first three innings, including a pair by shortstop Josh Horton.

Midland remains in first place by 1/2 game over Corpus Christi (Astros).

Corey Brown went 1-for-4 with an RBI double, but struck out three times. Brown has struck out five times in the past two nights.

Chris Carter went 0-for-3 and saw his average dip to .268. The big first baseman has gone a season high six games without an RBI.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 10, High Desert (Mariners) 3: Story l Boxscore

David Thomas and Frank Martinez each had two RBI as the Ports have now won three of four and five of their last seven. Still, Stockton had four errors to continue the organization’s theme of the night.

Shortstop Michael Richard had two hits and stole his team-leading sixth base.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Cougars 3, Burlington (Royals) 2: Story l Boxscore

Shawn Haviland continued to impress for the first-place Cougars (22-12). Last year’s 33rd-round pick improved to 3-1 with five innings of two-run ball, featuring five strikeouts. Haviland’s ERA stands at 2.48.

Jeremy Barfield went 2-for-3 with an RBI and is now hitting .354.