A's Keep Out-Of-Options Veterans Fox, Patterson





PHOENIX—On the final day of spring training, the Athletics still had too many pieces for a puzzle that was not coming together.

Because they were out of options, 27-year-olds Eric Patterson and Jake Fox either had to make the team or be passed through waivers.

The A's did not believe either would remain with the organization if waived, so both made the Opening Day roster in backup roles.

Fox will wear several hats: catcher, backup to both infield and outfield corners and righthanded-hitting DH to spell Eric Chavez. The speedy Patterson has dabbled at second, third and the outfield. A finger injury that placed center fielder Coco Crisp on the DL for at least a month could create more playing time for Patterson.

"(A's manager Bob Geren) pulled me aside in the last inning and told me I made the team, and (to) continue to work," an excited Patterson said moments after the final spring game. He said his callup last September made him more comfortable at the big league level.

"One of the things I wanted to work on this offseason was taking some of the air out of the ball, trying to get more of a line-drive and groundball stroke," Patterson said.

Fox came up with the Cubs, but at the end of last season he had a frank talk with general manager Jim Hendry about his future. When the trade was made, Fox said Hendry told him, "We're going to send you some place where you'll get a chance to play. I couldn't look myself in the mirror and know that I held your career back."

Fox hopes to get more chances with the A's. "One of the things they told me when I came here was, 'If you hit, you play,' " Fox said. "I'm hoping that's the way it is."

He also believes he is fully capable of backing up catcher Kurt Suzuki. "Catcher's what I came up as," he said, "and the Cubs moved me out from behind the plate because they didn't think I'd be able to catch at the big league level. (But) they kind of did me a favor by teaching me some versatility, because the more positions I can play, the more opportunity I can get.

"Right now, I feel like I'm very average at five (positions) instead of being good at one."

A's ACORNS

• The A's optioned catcher Landon Powell, 28, to Triple-A to accommodate Fox. He handled the announcement gracefully but said it is harder because he is at the point where he needs to get his career going.

• The A's signed righthander Josh Lansford, older brother of relief prospect Jared, who finished last season with Triple-A Sacramento. The Cubs released Josh during spring training.