GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Oakland Athletics' outfield looked totally set to start the season, but with Craig Gentry's back injury still keeping the offseason addition off the field, there is an increasing chance that non-roster player Sam Fuld will make the team.
Fuld was hitting .308 this spring through March 10, and there is good reason for the A's to find a roster spot for him: He is the only extra outfielder in camp with much major league experience, and he has an out in his deal if he isn't on the Opening Day roster. He also can opt out June 1 if he is not on the roster.
In addition, Fuld can play all three outfield spots extremely well, with no drop-off at any of the positions, manager Bob Melvin said.
Taylor spent most of the past four seasons at Triple-A Sacramento, with five short big-league stints during which he has hit .135 in 26 games. He is out of options. On March 10, Taylor hit his second homer of the spring, and he was batting .323 with a .977 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. He led the A's with 10 hits and 19 total bases.
Burns, a speed burner, is now Oakland's top outfield prospect in the upper levels of the minor leagues after the team traded Michael Choice to the Texas Rangers for Gentry. Burns stole seven bases in his first seven spring games.
Outfielder Shane Peterson, called up by the A's early last season, was among the first reassignments of camp, getting sent to Triple-A Sacramento on Monday.
--OF Craig Gentry had yet to begin baseball activity through March 10 after incurring a lower back strain the first week of camp. Gentry did some running on the field on March 8, but his status for the Opening Day roster is a big question mark.
--RHP Fernando Rodriguez, who is one year removed from Tommy John surgery, threw two simulated games in camp, and the team was encouraged by his progress. It is unlikely that Rodriguez, who is out of options, will pitch in a big-league spring game, however. He is expected to open the season on the disabled list and go on a minor league rehab assignment.
--1B Daric Barton incurred a hamstring strain March 8, and he is unlikely to play again before the weekend of March 14-16. Barton, who is out of options, is a strong bet to make Oakland's Opening Day roster. He was batting .444 with four walks, and a 1.310 OPS at the time of his injury.
--C Derek Norris missed four games with lower back tightness through March 10, and he won't be in action again until March 12 at the earliest. The team is being cautious with Norris, who had his back lock up on him last year in Toronto after he tried to play through some discomfort.
--SS Addison Russell strained his right hamstring in the eighth inning March 10, but the severity of the injury was not immediately know. Russell, the organization's top overall prospect, is not expected to break camp with the A's, but he is the team's likely Opening Day shortstop in 2015.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a jailbreak with him all the time." -- A's manager Bob Melvin, on speedy minor league OF Billy Burns, who stole seven bases in his first seven spring games.
RHP Jarrod Parker
RHP Sonny Gray
LHP Scott Kazmir
RHP A.J. Griffin
RHP Dan Straily
Kazmir, a free-agent pickup, probably slots into the middle of the rotation, as the only projected left-hander -- although if anyone were to falter, lefty Tommy Milone, part of the staff each of the past two seasons, would be the next candidate to start. Finishing strong was an issue for some of the A's young starters last year, which is why an even deeper bullpen should be a plus for the rotation. There won't be many complete games from this group, if any -- and going just five or six innings might be the norm.
RHP Jim Johnson (closer)
RHP Luke Gregerson
LHP Sean Doolittle
RHP Ryan Cook
RHP Dan Otero
LHP Fernando Abad
RHP Jesse Chavez
Johnson, the A's new closer, is the major league saves leader the past two years, with 101 -- the reason Oakland was willing to trade for Johnson and then pay him $10 million. The A's have five relievers capable of finishing games -- and lefty Eric O'Flaherty is expected to be able to join the team around midseason after having Tommy John surgery last year. The bullpen is among the best in baseball, and might be one of the best ever given the overall talent level and the presence of so many potential closer-types. The depth should prevent any one or two key relievers from being overworked, preventing the sort of fatigue that hit Cook and then-closer Grant Balfour toward the end of last season.
1. CF Coco Crisp
2. SS Jed Lowrie
3. 3B Josh Donaldson
4. 1B Brandon Moss
5. LF Yoenis Cespedes
6. DH John Jaso
7. C Derek Norris
8. RF Josh Reddick
9. 2B Eric Sogard
The A's liberal use of platoons means there will be no set lineup, and no set DH. New fourth outfielder Craig Gentry will get plenty of playing time, especially against left-handed pitchers, as will infielders Alberto Callaspo (who could play some at first base) and Nick Punto. It will be tough for 1B Nate Freiman and C Stephen Vogt to crack the Opening Day roster because both have options left. Sam Fuld and Michael Taylor will compete for the fifth outfield spot (if there is one) and Daric Barton will vie for a spot in the infield.
TOP ROOKIES: Addison Russell, 20, will be one of the most closely watched players in any camp this spring. The A's won't rush their top prospect, but no one will be surprised if the shortstop is up at some point this season after a strong Arizona Fall League. RHP Arnold Leon, 25, has pitched in relief and as a starter in the minors, and he will get a long look during the spring in case there is a need during the season. He issued just 24 walks in 25 games, including 24 starts, in Double-A and Triple-A last year.
--RHP Ryan Cook (right shoulder tightness) was throwing bullpen sessions as of March 10, and he could appear in a game before the end of Cactus League play. The A's, with a deep bullpen, will be cautious with the setup man, however.
--OF Craig Gentry (lower back strain) had yet to appear in a Cactus League through March 10. His status for Opening Day was becoming increasingly questionable.
--RHP Fernando Rodriguez (Tommy John surgery in March 2013) threw simulated games in early March, but it is unlikely he will appear in a spring game with Oakland. Rodriguez is out of options. He is likely to go on a minor league rehab assignment to start the season.
--1B Daric Barton (right hamstring strain) was hurt March 8, and he was expected to miss about a week. Barton is still likely to be on the Opening Day roster.
--C Derek Norris (back tightness) was expected to miss a week of action in mid-March. He is expected to be ready for Opening Day.
--LHP Eric O'Flaherty (Tommy John surgery in May 2013) went on the 60-day disabled list Feb. 17. He was throwing long-toss at the start of spring training, and he is on track to join the A's sometime during midseason.
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