A's extras: Lincecum happy Cespedes is in AL

A's extras: Lincecum happy Cespedes is in AL
March 28, 2013, 11:00 pm
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SAN FRANCISCO -- With a starting spot at second base up for grabs, Eric Sogard is playing himself onto the Oakland Athletics Opening Day roster. In the A's 7-3 win over the Giants at AT&T Park, he flashed every aspect of his game.

The versatile infielder hit an RBI single off starting pitcher Tim Lincecum in the fifth inning and dropped a perfect bunt to score Josh Donaldson on a safety squeeze in the sixth frame. He finished the day 1 for 4 with 2 RBI. It could have been better too, as he was robbed of a hit on a fantastic ranging play by Giants' shortstop Brandon Crawford in the second inning.

"He's just continuing to swing the bat well and really getting some decent at-bats against the lefties," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's been as consistent a hitter as we've had all spring."

Sogard also got it done defensively. The spectacled second baseman robbed Brandon Belt of a hit in the sixth inning by ranging to his left and making a headfirst diving stop and throw to first.

"I don't even think it's surprising anymore," pitcher Tommy Milone said. "He does it day in and day out. It's impressive what he's been doing. We just hope he keeps going."

With right-handed pitcher Felix Hernandez facing the A's on Opening Day, Sogard's left-handed bat could be an easy choice to pencil into the lineup. He is hitting .480 this spring.

Heart of the Lineup:

The heart of the A's batting order pumped runs onto the scoreboard. In the fourth inning, cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes smashed a two-run homer off Tim Lincecum that landed deep in the left field stands. In the next frame, Josh Reddick pulled a three-run homer of reliever Jeremy Affeldt that landed atop the high brick wall in right field.

Reddick is tied for the team lead with 13 RBI this spring. Cespedes is tied for the team lead with five home runs. Reddick led the A's with 32 home runs in 2012. Cespedes looks primed to give him a run for his money.

"You want to see that progression going onto the season and he's swinging a lot better," Melvin said of Cespedes. "He's always dangerous, he always has that look even when he's not swinging well."

Cespedes has now taken Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young Award-winner, deep twice this spring.

"Good thing he's in the AL," Lincecum said.

Hiro Nakajima Update:

Shortstop Hiro Nakajima saw the A's doctors on Thursday. They confirmed he has a left hamstring strain. It is still undetermined how long he will be out. The Japanese shortstop will miss the rest of the A's exhibition games.

"It's feeling much better," Nakajima said through interpreter Hiroo Nishi. "It's very disappointing. When I see the other players play I want to join them."

It appears the A's are waiting until the last minute to determine whether or not they will need him to start the season on the 15-day disabled list. If Nakajima starts the year on the DL, it opens up an extra spot in the A's infield and allows Nakajima to find his stroke in some rehabilitation games.