OAKLAND—The mad scientists in Oakland are in the midst of a cloning experiment—they want to create the next Chone Figgins.
The plan is to make Eric Patterson into a multi-positional player who can function as a force at the top of the order.
"I look at him as someone who I model myself after," the 26-year-old Patterson said of Figgins. "If the organization wants me to be a guy who moves around and plays lots of positions, I'm fine with that."
A key acquisition from the Cubs in last year's trade of Rich Harden, Patterson has done nothing but hit at Triple-A. With Sacramento this season, he batted .321/.389/.526 in 420 at-bats, with 12 home runs and 40 stolen bases in 46 attempts.
A natural second baseman, he also had seen time at third base and in center and left field with the River Cats.
The Athletics intend to use September as a proving ground for young players, giving them playing time to show what they can do.
"All you want is an opportunity," Patterson said. "Whether you make the most of the opportunity is up to you. But all you want is a fair shot, some consistent at-bats and some consistent playing time. I think this time around I'm going to get that. It's up to me to make the most of it, and hopefully I can."
Patterson could inject serious speed into Oakland's offense if his minor league numbers translate to the big leagues. In brief trials in Oakland the past two seasons, he has gone for 9-for-9 on the bases—but the lefthanded batter has hit just .172 with four extra-base hits in those 122 at-bats
"The idea is that we can make him the complete Figgins-like player," farm director Keith Lieppman said. "He has gotten into that mode where he may not master all those positions, but he can play all of them. He has that versatility. When you have that versatility and that offensive approach, it makes up for any weakness on defense."
The Cubs drafted Patterson, a Georgia Tech product, with an eighth-round pick in 2004. Now five years later, he hopes to show that he can stick at the highest level.
• The A's plan to give Double-A Midland first baseman Chris Carter significant playing time in left field for the rest of the season. Lieppman said Carter has both the speed and the arm to play left, and Carter approaches the opportunity with a positive attitude.
• Righthander Michael Ynoa continued to rehab his sore arm with an eye toward participating in instructional league. If he is not ready at that point, then he would be moved into the later Dominican instructional league.