A's top Rockies; Jed Lowrie on inside track at shortstop
Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 8:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 8:42 p.m.
PHOENIX — It seems inevitable that Jed Lowrie will be the A's opening day shortstop, even if on Wednesday, when they closed up shop in Arizona with a 6-5 win over the Colorado Rockies, he was just another contender with Hiroyuki Nakajima.
Lowrie has played well on defense, hit over .300 and slammed three homers this spring in his bid to be the starter.
He was the Houston Astros shortstop last year until being sidelined by an injury, and while the A's picked him up to be a utility infielder, he wants to play one position.
That position is shortstop.
“It's where I'm most comfortable, that's for sure,” Lowrie said.
Nakajima singled in the 10th inning Tuesday to start a game-winning rally against Cleveland, but later in the inning he suffered a left hamstring strain while running the bases. It capped a miserable spring for Nakajima, who hit just .167.
Nakajima was hoping his injury was just a cramp, but he's not going to play against the Giants during the three-game Bay Area Series that begins Thursday night at AT&T Park, and he could wind up on the disabled list. Nakajima indicated he was feeling better Wednesday.
“Until he sees the doctors, I won't make any predictions about when he'll play,” manager Bob Melvin said. “But he most likely won't play in the Giants series and it could be longer than that.”
Asked about Lowrie being the shortstop in the opener, Melvin said, “We still have some cuts to make, and we still have to see where we are going with Hiro.”
A'S 6, ROCKIES 5
Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin was victimized for six runs and 10 hits in five innings, and the Oakland A's defeated the Colorado.
Nate Freiman hit a two-run double off the glove of Dexter Fowler in center field to put Oakland ahead in the fifth.
Jeremy Barfield led off the A's three-run fourth with a homer off Chacin.
Colorado took a 5-4 lead in the top of the fifth on Fowler's second long ball of the game off right-hander Jarrod Parker and a two-out solo homer by Troy Tulowitzki off Hideki Okajima.
The Rockies' Chris Nelson also homered off Parker in the second inning.
There had been speculation that an inconsistent spring might be costing Dan Straily his job, but that's not the case. Melvin said the right-hander will start game five, which will be the first road game of the season for the A's, in Houston against the newest member of the American League.
Straily, who likely will get the Saturday start against the Giants in the Bay Bridge Series, is 1-2 with a 7.56 ERA in the Cactus League.
While he opens the season in the rotation, he's not likely to remain there long. He has options, and the A's will need to get Bartolo Colon into the rotation once the final five games of his 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs ends.
Lefty reliever Hideki Okajima will make the trip north with the A's, but after giving up another run to push his spring ERA to 5.79, he's likely to be starting the season at Triple-A Sacramento.
In his bid to make the roster after being acquired over the weekend, first baseman Nate Freiman doubled, singled and drove in two runs.
He figures to get plenty of at-bats against the Giants this week as the A's decide if the Rule 5 slugger is going to be with them for the season.
He remains a long shot to make the roster, but nonroster reliever Mike Ekstrom has done everything he can. The right-hander got his third save Wednesday with two scoreless innings and lowered his spring ERA to 1.20.