As we approach the mid-way part of spring camp, one of the more interesting roster battles for the Oakland Athletics is the one in center field. Esteury Ruiz, JJ Bleday and Cristian Pache have all seen time there during the spring, but it is unlikely that all three will begin the season on the Opening Day roster.
Ruiz was part of the return in the three-team trade that landed Sean Murphy in Atlanta this offseason. He has appeared in nine games so far and is 4-for-22 at the plate with three walks and three stolen bases. Bleday came over from the Marlins in the trade for A.J. Puk and is 6-for-24 with a double and 10 strikeouts. He has also seen some time in the corner outfield spots. Pache was Oakland’s Opening Day centerfielder a year ago, but struggled at the plate and ultimately lost the job. He is 8-for-21 so far this spring and has yet to strikeout.
Pache is also out of options which means he needs to make the club or be exposed to waivers. A’s manager Mark Kotsay hinted Saturday that Pache being out of options will likely figure into the decision.
“There’s going to be factors that go into it … not just performance but roster construction, depth at the position,” Kotsay said.
“Both Ruiz and JJ have options. And it’s a great thing but it’s also a hindrance for them, in terms of they may not get an opportunity to start with this club. But again, that is where you say they’re going to impact this club at some point. We saw it last year.”
There are other questions for the remainder of the outfield make up. Seth Brown and Ramon Laureano figure to see the bulk of the playing time in the corners and Brown has spent the offseason trying to improve against lefties in an effort to become more of an every day player. Connor Capel and Brent Rooker are also in camp and vying for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
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A’s prospect Ryan Cusick made his spring debut Saturday tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
A’s prospect Ryan Cusick pitched in today’s game against Cleveland and went 1 2/3 scoreless innings on a hit and walk with two strikeouts.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 11, 2023
Kotsay on Cusick: “Great to see a young kid we think a lot of on the mound. I’m sure there were some nerves. But he definitely has stuff.”
Unfortunately I can’t find any video, but Lawrence Butler was at it again Saturday.
Stay hot, Lawrence Butler— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) March 11, 2023
He ropes an RBI double to score Kevin Smith and is now 10-for-16 this spring with team-high 9 RBI