A's notes: Balfour's Cactus League debut, infield indecision

A's notes: Balfour's Cactus League debut, infield indecision
March 21, 2013, 11:30 am
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Grant Balfour is scheduled to pitch for the A's on Thursday for the first time since undergoing knee surgery. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

GOODYEAR -- Grant Balfour will step on the mound in Cactus League action for the first time this spring since undergoing a lateral meniscectomy on his right knee on February 14.

There are still 12 days left until opening day and most pitchers are getting stretched out at this point in the spring. Balfour's main concern will be his knee and not his arm this time out. He will have an accelerated timetable to get ready.

Infield Indecision:

-- There have been no decisions made about the A's middle infield spots. On Thursday, A's manager Bob Melvin said the decision could come down to the final three exhibition games against the Giants.

"We've made no decisions on who is where and how much," Melvin said. "Based on the way guys are playing it's making our decisions tougher."

The skipper cautioned that the mix of guys the team starts with may not be etched in stone. Oakland used 50 players last season en route to their AL West Championship, and they will be doing a lot of mixing and matching.

Extra Work:

-- Hiro Nakajima, Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss will all play in a minor league game on Thursday. The purpose is to get extra at-bats without taking up a spot in the big league lineup.

It is the second time that Nakajima has appeared at minor league camp for extra work. Melvin acknowledged that Nakajima's transition to a new league and country has made his spring more complicated than the other players on the team.

"We're seeing some progressions as far as the at-bats," Melvin said. "We're trying to combat the lack of experience here by getting him some more at-bats. There's a learning curve for him."

Nakajima is hitting .176 (6 for 34) with three walks and 10 strikeouts this spring.

March Madness:

-- A large NCAA Tournament bracket is displayed on the clubhouse wall just outside the weight room. The A's drew teams at 8:15 a.m. for some type of March Madness game. Players could be seen running over to the bracket to see which games they had to pay attention to.

Lineups and Pitchers:

Eric Sogard DH
Jed Lowrie SS
Josh Reddick RF
Seth Smith LF
Chris Young CF
Derek Norris C
Daric Barton 1B
Josh Donaldson 3B
Jemile Weeks 2B

Brett Anderson
Travis Blackley
Grant Balfour
Mike Ekstrom
Hideki Okajima