Athletics' Parker Encounters Defense Of The Third Kind





OAKLAND—When Steve Parker reported to instructional league last fall, the Athletics' most recent fifth-round pick set out to prove that he could play third base at the professional level.

So Parker spent most of October with defensive coordinator Juan Navarrete dogging his every move, working on throwing, footwork and charging the ball.

Four months into this season, the Brigham Young product had made a big impression.

"He has shown he can play third base," farm director Keith Lieppman said. "Defensively, we didn't know what would be his best position. He played a lot of first last year at (low Class A) Kane County. He's held up very well this year at third base, and he's made a lot of improvements, especially with his throwing."

Though Parker had committed 23 errors in 100 games (.914 fielding percentage) for high Class A Stockton, the rudiments were in place that should keep him at third base.

"We didn't know if he had the mobility," Lieppman said. "He has been learning the intricacies of playing depth. He does fine coming in at the ball. We think he will be able to stay at third."

Parker, 22, credits Navarrete's tutelage last fall. "He's really good with certain techniques on glove positioning," Parker said. "I worked on my backhand, going to my right. Maybe the defensive numbers don't show it, but I feel a lot more confident as a defender."

His offensive numbers required no subtext. Through 396 at-bats, Parker was hitting .295/.398/.500 with 15 home runs and 72 RBIs.

"He's a lefthanded bat, and he's learning to hit the ball the other way pretty well," Lieppman said. "He has a nice, pure swing, not a whole lot of parts to it. He's pretty consistent, just effortless with his approach."

Parker has had more to worry about than simply playing third. His adjustments include "eating a lot of fast food, traveling, getting used to the aches and pains. Your body just needs to get used to playing 140 games a year."

A's ACORNS

• Lefthanders Pedro Figueroa and Julio Ramos had Tommy John surgery in late July. Ramos did not pitch this year, while Figueroa made 13 starts for Double-A Midland, where he began well enough but ran up a 7.82 ERA in his final seven starts

• Righthander James Simmons, the club's first-round pick in 2007, had surgery on his right shoulder to improve the blood flow and remove scar tissue.