Athletics' Sogard Reaps Benefit From Versatility





OAKLAND—Eric Sogard carried a .295 average and .380 on-base percentage through more than 2,300 minor league plate appearance. He fielded his natural position of second base adequately.

But because he lacked power as well as positional versatility, the 25-year-old Sogard had not been afforded much big league opportunity.

So Sogard dedicated himself to improving his defense and his versatility.

"The past couple of offseasons I got into a good workout program at Fischer Sports (in Tempe, Ariz.)," Sogard said. "That really helped my first-step quickness, and I really feel like it's helped my defense, helped my range. And, I've cut down my angles to the ball."

During the closing weeks of the 2010 season, the A's gave Sogard a chance to play shortstop for Triple-A Sacramento, and he developed a comfort level at the position. Between workouts at Fischer, he hooked up with A's infield coach Mike Gallego three times a week for extra work.

"I wanted to make the most of my opportunities and work on the fine details," Sogard said.

He began the season back in Sacramento, playing shortstop every day while batting .298/.381/.410 through 315 at-bats. Sogard bats lefthanded and also can handle second and third base. In other words, he's Mr. Versatility, and the A's called him up at the end of July.

"He's obviously done everything possible as far as the preparation," farm director Keith Lieppman said. "He has the skill set to play (shortstop), it's just a matter of getting enough repetitions. Making that change in the middle of his career is difficult."

Lieppman says Sogard has just enough arm for the position, comparing him with Orlando Cabrera, who offsets an average arm with a quick release and excellent positioning.

"The big draw to (Sogard) was that he gives you a quality at-bat," Lieppman said. "He continues to grind out his at-bats—he makes the pitchers work."

A Padres second-round pick from Arizona State in 2007, Sogard joined Oakland (along with Kevin Kouzmanoff) in the January 2010 trade that sent Scott Hairston to San Diego.

A's ACORNS

• The A's shifted 2009 first-round pick Grant Green from shortstop to center field at Double-A Midland in mid-July. Green's bat had advanced more quickly (.280/.340/.395 through 431 at-bats) than his glove, the club reasoned.

Sean Doolittle, who starred as a first baseman/lefthander at Virginia, worked off the mound in extended spring training as his right wrist healed after surgery. Multiple knee surgeries and wrist problems have kept him out of action since May 2009.