Oakland A's Notebook: Roster Questions

In our latest edition of Oakland A's Notebook, Inside Pitch explores the roster crunch created by the A's signing of DH Frank Thomas. We also highlight a few big events involving the A's minor league affiliates.

Oakland A's Inside Pitch

The addition of Frank Thomas to the A's roster left the team with a jumble of lineup possibilities, both in terms of who would play, where they would play, and where they would hit in the lineup.

As usual, manager Ken Macha was not interested in speculating on any of it two weeks before the start of spring training.

"We could go to spring training and make a couple more moves," Macha said. "To worry about things like that now, I don't see any merit in doing that."

The first question is how Macha will squeeze four outfielders into three spots. Putting Thomas at DH moves Dan Johnson back to first, which moves Nick Swisher back into the outfield rotation. The A's also have Mark Kotsay, Milton Bradley and Jay Payton, who were the projected starters before the Thomas signing.

All that's certain is that Kotsay will be the everyday center fielder. As for the corner spots, Macha said he wants to spend spring training determining which side is the better fit for Bradley and Swisher.

The other question involves the batting order. Macha has three potential leadoff hitters: Jason Kendall, Mark Ellis and Kotsay. Of the three, Ellis performed the best in that role last year, but the other two are more experienced.

"All have done it and all have been successful," Macha said. "With this depth, we should be able to put a quality lineup out there every day."

Kotsay may get the nod simply because he is left-handed, and Macha likes to alternate righties and lefties as much as possible. Lefty Eric Chavez is likely to hit third, followed by Thomas, the switch-hitting Bradley and right-handed hitting Bobby Crosby.

Of course, if the A's wanted Crosby to hit third (as he did much of last season), followed by Chavez and Thomas, everything in the spots surrounding them could change.

Macha said this is deepest roster the A's have had in his three-year tenure. "The depth thing is really intriguing."

Minor League Notebook

Stockton Goes Hollywood

It wasn't American Idol, but there were a number of excited people who heard the words "you're going to Banner Island Ballpark" last weekend in Stockton. The Ports announced that they were going a different direction with their advertising campaign, and they got their fans involved in the act. On Friday, January 27 and Saturday, January 28, the Ports held tryouts for their fans to play parts in their upcoming television commercials.

The Ports debuted their new stadium, Banner Island Ballpark, last season and the new home was met with record-breaking attendance. However, the Ports are hoping to take their attendance to a whole new level through the guidance of Gumas Advertising, a San Francisco-based marketing firm. The Ports' new commercials will be "network quality" and ground-breaking for a minor league team.

"Commercials of this size have never been done by a Minor League baseball team," Reza Wiriaatmadja, Ports Director of Marketing & Promotions, said in a prepared statement. "Our entire staff is looking forward to changing how the Stockton Ports are marketed in this industry.

The Ports have also launched a redesigned team Web site. It can still be found at www.stocktonports.com.

Sacramento To Host Job Fairs This Month

Sacramento River Cats' fans looking to get more involved with their team will have the opportunity to apply for a variety of positions during three separate job fairs. The first will be on Saturday, February 4. The next two fairs will be on February 11 and 18th. All three fairs will take place at the River Cats' home, Raley Field, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

More than 350 positions will be available, including usher, grounds crew, stadium operations, ticket office and concessions positions. For more information, applicants can visit www.rivercats.com or call (916) 376-4783.

Kane County Hosts Winter Celebration This Weekend

The Kane County Cougars will be busy this weekend. On Friday, February 3, the Cougars will be hosting their 15th annual Winter Banquet and Silent Auction for Charity. Highlighting the event will be former major league pitcher Tommy John and outfielder Bobby Dernier. A's prospect Tommy Everidge and Cougars manager Aaron Nieckula will also be on hand. There will be a cocktail reception, dinner and a raffle for charity. Tickets for the event cost $50, and more information can be found at the Cougars' Web site, www.kccougars.com, or by phone, (630) 232-8811,

On Saturday, February 4, the Cougars will be hosting their Fifth Annual Coaches Clinic at the Fox Valley Strikers Soccer Training Facility in Geneva, IL. The free event is designed for youth baseball and softball coaches. Members of the A's coaching staff, including Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman, Roving Hitting Instructor Greg Sparks, Roving Pitching Instructor Ron Romanick, Cougars manager Aaron Nieckula and Cougars Athletic Trainer Justin Whitehouse are all scheduled to appear. The event is designed for coaches looking to improve their skills in a variety of areas. To RSVP for the event, coaches can call (630) 232-8811 extension 6271.

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