Lots of middle infielders, few spots available, but these guys just aren't going to make it simple. Coming off the bench, Adam Rosales' 2-run HR broke a 6-6 tie, and his 2nd 2-run HR capped the scoring, as the A's walloped the Cubs 12-6. Rosales was 2-2 with 2 HRs.
Not to be outdone, Eric Sogard started at 2B and went 4 for 4. That leaves his Cactus League average at a cool .500: 15 for 30. As for Andy Parrino, coming off the bench? Try 2 for 2 with a single and double. Parrino has hit well, and made defensive plays both routine and sensational, since day one.
The A's got on the board early when 3 batters into the game, Chris Young launched a 3-run HR off of Scott Baker. Baker is trying to come back from Tommy John surgery, but even Tommy John, today, could probably do better than Baker fared: He faced 6 batters, retired only 1, and along with the HR also walked 2.
Tommy Milone gave one of those back on a 2nd inning solo HR (Dave Sappelt), and then the A's scored their next 3 on one swing of Josh Donaldson's bat, a 3-run HR in the 3rd. Trailing 6-1, the Cubs came all the way back against Milone (4.2 IP, 8 hits, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) and Hideki Okajima, before Rosales and Co. took control -- the A's scored 6 unanswered runs in the 7th and 8th to put the game away.
Hiro Nakajima continued to struggle, going 0 for 3 with a pair of fly balls to RF and a dribbler to 3B. As shaky as he has looked on both sides of the ball, and as strong a push as Sogard, Parrino, and Rosales are making, you have to wonder if the A's are considering breaking camp with Nakajima at AAA, Jed Lowrie at SS, and one of today's hot hitters at 2B. Scott Sizemore remains in the mix -- his RBI double plated a run in the 8th -- as does Jemile Weeks, whose only AB produced a line drive single to RF.
There are 3 MIF spots, one of which will be taken by Lowrie. You have to wonder, at this point, if the other two might initially go to people who are not Nakajima. Even if that's the case, it's far from clear who might get those 2 spots from amongst Sizemore, Weeks, Rosales, Sogard, and Parrino. From that group, only Rosales is out of options.
Meanwhile, you also have to wonder if the uncertainty up the middle, combined with Shane Peterson's impressive spring, might combine to persuade the A's they can let Daric Barton go. Barton did not play today, but those concerned about Brandon Moss regressing heavily this season might be further heartened by Moss ripping a line drive single and double and boosting his Cactus League average to .333 (12/36).
Don't kid yourself -- no matter how little you regard spring training stats or results, these next 2 weeks are going to be critical for certain players. Most notably: Nakajima, Sizemore, Rosales, Sogard, and Parrino. Keep a closer and closer eye as we approach the end of March.