PHOENIX -- Grant Green is a Minor Leaguer who garners attention from fans as though he were a Major Leaguer.
That's because once upon a time, Green was considered to be the A's shortstop of the future. But four years have passed since he was taken in the first round out of the University of Southern California, and fans have been forced to temper any excitement surrounding his potential with patience.
The 25-year-old entered spring swimming in a deep, crowded infield pool, his chances of breaking camp with the team very slim. So despite the fact that he hit .409, with a good showing at his new home at second base, the decision to option him to Triple-A on Sunday wasn't much of a surprise.
Still, his performance was enough to convince a few in the front office that the talent is still there and that he very well may still have a future in Oakland once the crowded infield disperses.
"I think he's made terrific progress from what we saw last year, especially for a guy that's had to play multiple positions and get moved around," manager Bob Melvin said. "He didn't allow it to affect his at-bats. It was a really good showing for him this spring, and I think he's got the chance to get comfortable and be a real good second baseman."
Of Green's nine hits in camp, five went for extra bases. But hitting has never been the problem, as his .302 Minor League average would suggest. Defense has been the bigger question, and the A's have tried him at multiple positions in an effort to determine where he's best suited, including the outfield and third base.
They seem to have found the answer at second base. Of course, that's where the competition is fiercest these days. But even though he remains blocked, Green is staying put, it seems.
"He's a good enough athlete to probably play anywhere, and that probably works against him," Melvin said. "He's played in the outfield, was a shortstop coming out of school, now he's at second base. I'm sure he can play first. There's a lot of things he can do, but we feel he's going to be able to handle second base nicely."
Balfour reports good health after Minor League outing
PHOENIX -- The ultra-competitive Grant Balfour wasn't too happy when he learned that his first game action of the spring would come in a Minor League setting. But he was in a better mood upon his return from the Monday outing, when he was able to report good health.
That's all that really mattered, anyway, never mind his surroundings.
The closer, who underwent minor surgery on his right knee just a month ago, made 17 pitches and "didn't feel anything in my knee," he said.
"It was fine," he continued. "I wasn't thinking about it at all, so now it's about getting ready and going through those speed bumps I get. It's Spring Training -- same old, same old, trying to get my arm going."
Balfour admitted to giving up a couple of hits and runs, but "that was kind of expected," he said. The right-hander is notorious for his spring struggles, so he was just happy he made it through the entire first inning.
"That was a plus," he said, laughing. "Got all three outs."
Balfour compiled a strikeout and two fly balls in that span, never once needing to make a play himself and test his knee.
"Just the outfielders doing all the running today," he joked.
The 35-year-old veteran is now tentatively scheduled to make his Cactus League debut on Thursday, against the Reds, and is expected to make five appearances before regular-season play begins April 1.
"I wanted to go out there today because it doesn't really do me much going over there," he said. "I know I needed to get that out of the way, though, I guess. I think I had more intensity going into live batting practice than I did today. For some reason I just can't really seem to get it going in those games over there. That's all right. I got my pitches in and an inning under my belt, too."
Melvin balancing his second-base hopefuls
PHOENIX -- Each day there are only nine innings to be shared by six second-base candidates, forcing manager Bob Melvin to do his best balancing act.
On Monday he was able to get all six playing time in the A's 6-5 loss to the Mariners, with Scott Sizemore, Jed Lowrie, Eric Sogard, Jemile Weeks, Adam Rosales and Andy Parrino accounting for 13 of the club's 32 at-bats.
Not all of them drew time at second base, though. Sizemore played all nine innings there, going 1-for-4 along the way. Rosales started at shortstop and collected a base hit, Lowrie went 0-for-2 at third base and Weeks got his three at-bats -- and one hit -- as the designated hitter.
"That's just a way to get Jemile some at-bats," Melvin said. "A way to try to get everyone in there. I would say the middle infield is the one that's more in flux. There are a lot of guys playing well, and my guess is that it will play out for a while."
Indeed, this sounds familiar, and the subject is almost assuredly to be broached daily.
Sogard, almost on cue, collected a double in his only at-bat off the bench -- his seventh of the spring -- to raise his average to .516.
"I'd almost be scared I'd never get a hit again if I was going that well," Melvin joked. "He's really seeing the ball well."
Parrino went 0-for-1 and subbed in left field.
Melvin may very well be tempted to send a few of these infielders to play in Minor League games in an effort to get them more at-bats.
• Yoenis Cespedes and Hiroyuki Nakajima were sent to Minor League camp on Monday to pick up some extra at-bats. Cespedes is hitting .182 through 13 Cactus League games, with Nakajima sporting a .194 mark.
• With an off-day on Wednesday, the A's will have righty Bartolo Colon pitch in a Minor League game to remain on schedule. Lefty Brett Anderson will then start on Thursday against the Reds, with right-hander Jarrod Parker pitching on Friday vs. the White Sox on five days' rest.