Two of the top hitters in the A's camp so far are ticketed for Triple-A Sacramento.
Michael Choice, the A's top pick in the 2010 draft, was batting .500 through Monday's games, among the Cactus League leaders. He's seen as the team's center fielder of the future -- perhaps as soon as next season, with Coco Crisp under contract only through this year.
Shane Peterson also plays center field, along with both corner outfield spots at first base. Peterson, acquired in the Matt Holliday deal with St. Louis, is batting .435, and he and Choice both have homered.
The A's, of course, have a more than full major-league outfield, to the point that Chris Young, an accomplished center fielder, will be bouncing all over as sort of a "utility" outfielder and designated hitter. He is learning both corner spots this spring.
So there is little chance Choice or Peterson cracks the big-league roster until September, barring injury or trades. But their development is encouraging, especially when it comes to choice, whose 2012 season was ended by a broken thumb last July. He leads the A's with eight RBIs in eight games, while Peterson has five doubles, most in the majors, and he added a triple on Monday.
Peterson, 25, could have a bit of an advantage because he plays first base well. Should the A's part ways with Daric Barton later this spring -- the team's former starting first baseman is out of options and is on a non-guaranteed contract -- the A's do not have an obvious replacement at the position in the event of an injury to Brandon Moss. Jed Lowrie and Adam Rosales both can play the position but are more valuable at the other infield spots.
Notes: RHP Grant Balfour has thrown two bullpen sessions off the mound since his Feb. 14 arthroscopic knee surgery. Balfour, who had torn meniscus in his right knee, is on track to get into spring games by the middle of the month and the A's closer is expected to be completely ready for Opening Day.
--OF Chris Young missed four days after exiting a game on Feb. 24 with cramping in his left quadriceps. He returned to the lineup on Friday and he had hits in his past three games through Sunday.
--INF Scott Sizemore was struck on the left hand by a pitch from Colorado's Tyler Chatwood on Sunday, but X-rays showed no breaks. Sizemore missed all of the 2012 season after tearing the ACL in his left knee on the first day of workouts last spring.
--RHP Andrew Carignan, who is recovering from July elbow ligament replacement surgery, was reassigned to minor-league camp. The reliever is expected to be pitching in games again by June or July; his rehab has gone without a hitch so far and he is throwing 35-pitch bullpen sessions.