OAKLAND—From the time Josh Donaldson signed with the Cubs as a supplemental first-round pick in 2007, evaluators have asked the question:
Could he develop into a true major league catcher?
Converted from third base while at Auburn, Donaldson has diligently toiled to learn the most complex job in baseball. And when he finally got a chance on the big stage, he made quite an impression.
"He's done a real nice job," Athletics manager Bob Geren said. "I saw the difference this spring from the previous spring. I like his set-up a lot better. His chest is up a couple of inches higher. His target is real solid."
The A's called up Donaldson at the end of April to back up Landon Powell, who had been pushed into a starting role by an injury to Kurt Suzuki.
"It's a great feeling to know there's not a higher level than this," Donaldson said. "Now, the next level is to find a way to stick.
"When I first started catching, if you asked if I would rather catch or play third, I probably would have said play third. Now, I want to catch. That's what I am. And hopefully I'll be an everyday guy some day."
Donaldson was batting .271/.327/.490 with five home runs in 96 at-bats for Triple-A Sacramento. And though he went just 4-for-26 (.154) for Oakland, he did connect for his first big league home run against the Blue Jays' Dana Eveland.
"I just felt like I was floating around the bases," he said.
Though Donaldson, 24, still needs to refine the art of blocking balls in the dirt, the A's have been impressed by his progress since his acquisition as part of the bounty for Rich Harden in 2008.
Farm director Keith Lieppman credits Donaldson with being a quick learner who is open to constructive criticism.
He recalled one rainy day in Arizona: "We were in the final meeting, and most of the guys wanted to get out of there. Josh just kept asking questions. Some of the veterans were snickering and picking on him, but he would not be deterred."
• The A's expected Double-A Midland second baseman Jemile Weeks to miss about a month with a partial tear in his left hip. An injury last year in the same area was a full tear.
• Sacramento outfielder Michael Taylor was hitting .232/.290/.408 with two homers in 125 at-bats when he went down with a strained calf.