Athletics' Donaldson Gets His Chance

OAKLAND—The years began slipping past Josh Donaldson, and with them the hope of becoming a major leaguer. At the end of last season, he decided to do something about it.

Donaldson, 26, had played catcher since being drafted 48th overall by the Cubs in 2007 out of Auburn, but late last year the Athletics gave him playing time at third base with Triple-A Sacramento. He decided to better learn the position by spending the winter playing third at Escogido in the Dominican League, so he could broaden his skill set for a big-league job.

That became a big asset on the first day of full-squad workouts in spring training, when A's third baseman Scott Sizemore tore his left ACL and was lost for the season. The door of opportunity opened for Donaldson, and he took over the third-base job in Oakland.

"Last year at Sacramento, in the last month all I did was play third," Donaldson said. "I really didn't know what was going on. I took it as an opportunity to show not only Oakland, but other teams . . . I wanted to show them that, hey, I can play both positions; that I can offer different aspects to my game."

What was going on, according to farm director Keith Lieppman, was that general manager Billy Beane and assistant David Forst the A's recognized the lack of depth at third base in the organization, and they wanted Donaldson to gain experience at the position in case of a need.

"I took the initiative on my own to want to go out and play and get better at third base," he said of his winter ball experience. "I didn't know where my career was headed."

The A's have long believed the 6-foot, 220-pound Donaldson could be a productive hitter, beyond the numbers he produced in the minors. He hit .261/.344/.439 with 17 homers and 70 RBIs last year in Triple-A. He said playing third may help his hitting because catching is such a draining position that sapped leg strength.

A's Acorns

• Jim Coffman was named pitching coach for short-season Vermont. Coffman scouts the Pacific Northwest for the A's, and he will continue his scouting duties until the draft.

• Righthander Michael Ynoa remains in Arizona and has been throwing well, according to Lieppman. The A's are hopeful he will be pitching in May.