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Sogard’s #FaceofMLB run `like going to Disneyland’

The bespeckled face of nerdpower isn’t, ultimately, the face of baseball.

A’s second baseman Eric Sogard’s wild ride through the Twittersphere came to an end Friday morning when a late push got the Mets’ David Wright over the top and a victory in MLB Networks’ #FaceofMLB competition.

“It was like going to Disneyland,’’ Sogard said Friday after the results were announced. “I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.’’

Sogard did nothing to promote his own candidacy, and said he was shocked when A’s fans originally picked him as the Oakland contestant in the competition. But as he rolled past the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki, the Giants’ Buster Posey and the Jays’ Jose Bautista, his momentum morphed from a strong surge into a tidal wave.

Were fans into it? Just a little. They took photos of the man whose black-rimmed glasses have had him crowned the face of #nerdpower, digitally imposed them on every picture they could think of and inundated Twitter with them.

There was Sogard in a poster for the movie Fight Club. And Raiders of the Lost Ark. And Toy Story. And the list goes on.

“There were so many amazing memes,’’ Sogard’s wife, Kaycee, said. “Eric took it all in stride, but we loved them all. I’m going to track them all down and make a book of them. They’re too good to lose.’’

Sogard just laughed when asked if he was going to ask for a recount of the vote, which saw him lose to Wright by two percentage points, 51-49. Sogard had been ahead when the West Coast went to bed Thursday night, but the East Coast rallied early.

None of which bothered Sogard.

“It goes to show the passion of A’s fans,’’ Sogard said. “It’s not just about me, it’s about this team and the fans we have. They are amazing.’’

Reliever Sean Doolittle has a theory on how the Sogard phenomenon got so big so fast.

“Who are the Oakland A’s?’’ Doolittle said. A’s fans had a chance to flip baseball on its side and they did a great job of it.’’

As did the A’s players, at least those who are on Twitter.

“We had a blast with it,’’ Doolittle said. “It got to be seeing who could come up with the coolest things to say to promote Sogie.’’

Josh Reddick dropped a few names and got Larry the Cable Guy and WWE wrestler The Big Show on board on Sogard’s behalf.

Starting pitchers Sonny Gray and Dan Straily orchestrated a scam in which Gray directed to Straily a tweet of support of Sogard his “new’’ phone number, asking that Straily call him. The number was the A’s ticket office.

Jarrod Parker, Josh Donaldson, A.J. Griffin, Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt and Tommy Milone all were out in front in leading the charge for Sogard. Even former A’s pitcher Travis Blackley, now pitching in Australia, chipped in, as did Brett Anderson and Pat Neshek, both of whom spent 2013 with the A’s.

Tweeted Norris: “Vote for the guy whose glasses are so powerful he can see the future.’’

Tweeted Crisp: “Who do you think showed @Coco_Crisp all his dance moves? Yup!! It was #EricSogard #FaceofMLB Sogie’s got skills.”

Tweeted Cook: “My timeline is a joke …  #EricSogard #FaceofMLB all over the place!

“I think you saw the personality of this team come out through all this,’’ Gray said. “Everybody was into it.’’

Sogard, a second baseman who has a fight ahead of him to hold the job he won last spring, won’t soon forget any of this.

“We may not have the most fans, but we have amazing fans,’’ Sogard said. “They get the credit for all this. This was them.’’

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Players without options have an advantage with A’s

PHOENIX – There’s hardly ever anything completely fair in baseball when you are a player looking to make a big league roster, and that’s as true with the A’s this spring as with any other club.

The A’s have eight players who are out of options, meaning Oakland has to find a way to keep them on their roster this season or risk losing them by having to put them on waivers.

Daric Barton, Travis Blackley, Jerry Blevins, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Pat Neshek, Chris Resop and Adam Rosales all are on that list. And it wouldn’t be a tremendous surprise if all eight landed a job, some at the expense of other otherwise worthy candidates.

Blevins is a fixture in the bullpen and Donaldson and Moss make up the corners of the infield, so they seem to be locks to make the final 25-man roster.

The other five will have a leg up on the competition based on the fact that the A’s historically don’t want to lose players without any return. Some could be traded, but all have value, as manager Bob Melvin admitted Wednesday.

“With our organization, we try to keep as many guys as we can,’’ Melvin said before the second day of spring workouts for pitchers and catchers. That’s not always the most popular position, but …’’

Melvin says the A’s will give everybody a look this spring, but come the end of March when rosters have to be finalized, he suggested that the desire to keep players would become a factor.

“The important thing right now is to give everybody a chance to play and see where we are,’’ he said.

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A’s Blackley has come a long way from Korea

PHOENIX – There’s hardly ever been a day during his decade playing baseball in the U.S. that you haven’t seen a smile on the face of left-handed pitcher Travis Blackley.

That’s particularly true now as he prepares for a season as a long reliever and spot starter for the A’s. The smile is bigger than ever.

But it’s been a long road from the ever-growing number of baseball parks in Australia to the desert splendor of Arizona, but there was a time two years ago when the smile had faded.

He’d gone from pitching in the big leagues to pitching in Korea.

“It was a time for some soul-searching,’’ Blackley said of the 2011 calendar year. “I was pitching well and all that, but I was pitching in Korea and wondering how I’d wound up here.’’

Ask scouts, and they’ll tell you that he always had great stuff, but that he didn’t always have great work habits. Ask Blackley and he’ll say “I was young and dumb.’’

Not so much anymore. Blackley has worked hard to get back, signing with the Giants last year and seeing a spot of time with them before being let go and signed by the A’s.

He repaid Oakland by going 6-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 15 games, including five as a starter. One of those was the season’s 161st game, when he pitched six innings against the Rangers, allowing one run in Oakland to beat two-time defending American League champion Texas. That enabled the A’s to draw even with the Rangers in the standings for the first time all year.

When Oakland won Game 162, the A’s were the AL West champions after having never led a day in the division for six months.

“I looked at myself and felt I always had the stuff to pitch here,’’ Blackley said. “What I didn’t have is the confidence. I’ve finally found that.’’

The A’s enter the spring with six solid starters, but pitching coach Curt Young and manager Bob Melvin will not let conversation about the A’s potential rotation for 2013 pass without mentioning Blackley. It’s possible that he will mostly pitch in relief this year, but if injury or ineffectiveness crop up, Blackley will be get the first call.

Or, and this would be a long shot, he could simply pitch his way into the rotation this spring.

Not bad for a former member of the KIA Tigers.

“That season in Korea turned it around for me,’’ he said.