Franklin Barreto

Mookie Betts offers A’s Franklin Barreto advice on moving to outfield

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USATSI

Mookie Betts offers A’s Franklin Barreto advice on moving to outfield

OAKLAND – Mookie Betts has quickly become one of the best outfielders in all of baseball, so it's easy to forget he actually began his career as a second baseman.

That's the path A's prospect Franklin Barreto is looking to follow. Barreto came up as a middle infielder, but Oakland moved him to the outfield this spring, hoping to get him more playing time.

The 23-year-old previously played some outfield in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2015 but had only played second base and shortstop with the A's. Similarly, Betts played a little outfield in high school but came up as a middle infielder in the Red Sox organization.

"It's a lot harder than you think it is," Betts said of moving to the outfield. "It's not just going out there and catching the ball. You've got to be willing to work on the craft."

Betts has done that and then some, becoming a three-time Gold Glove winner in the outfield. Of course, his natural athleticism has played a major factor, but he thinks Barreto can succeed in the outfield too.

"You've just got to be willing to work," Betts said. "No position is easy on a major league field. You just have to understand that and do what it takes to be good."

Teams have always valued defensive versatility, but it seems now more than ever, the ability to play multiple positions is essential. Chad Pinder and Mark Canha have proven that for the A's, playing just about every position on the field.

"Obviously, being able to play multiple positions brings value to you," Betts said. "Being that athlete definitely brings some value but you also want to be really good at a spot too."

[RELATED: How Franklin Barreto impressed A's in the outfield during spring training]

It appeared Barreto might finally get his chance to play consistently for the A's when Matt Olson went down with a hand injury last month. But Oakland brought in Kendrys Morales in a trade with Toronto and optioned Barreto down to Triple-A, where he has spent most of the last two seasons.

For now, Barreto will have to remain patient, while continuing to work on his game in Las Vegas. But sooner or later, he'll get his shot.

What Matt Olson injury means for A's offense, defense at first base

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What Matt Olson injury means for A's offense, defense at first base

The A's fears became a reality Friday when Gold Glove first baseman Matt Olson had to undergo surgery on his right hand.

No timetable has been provided for Olson's return, but a 2018 article in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine which studied similar procedures suggests he will likely miss three to seven weeks.

This is obviously a huge loss for Oakland. Beyond Olson's terrific defense, the 24-year-old provided tremendous power in the middle of the lineup.

Last season, Olson slashed .247/.335/.453 with 29 home runs and 84 RBI. That production won't be easy to replace, but the A's do have some reasonable options.

Platoon players Mark Canha and Chad Pinder can both play first base, and carry plenty of power in their bats. Canha clubbed 17 home runs and 22 doubles last year in just 365 at-bats. Pinder, meanwhile, hit 28 homers in 580 at-bats over the last two seasons.

Another option for the A's is to move Jurickson Profar to first base -- where he played 24 games last year -- and start Franklin Barreto at second. Barreto is coming off a terrific spring, hitting .375 (12-for-32) with a home run, four doubles, three RBI, five walks, and eight runs scored.

Barreto now has a great chance to make the 25-man roster in Olson's place. The 23-year-old has long been considered one of the A's top prospects, but has never had a chance to get consistent playing time in the big leagues. Oakland moved him from second base to the outfield this spring, but now a return to second makes sense.

[RELATED: Can A's regroup after rough beginning to season?]

The A's are fortunate to have enough offensive depth to survive the loss of Olson, but the biggest impact will likely show up on defense. Olson's height and scooping ability at first base will be incredibly hard to replace.

Nonetheless, Oakland showed the ability to overcome injury adversity last season. The A's just have to do it again this year.

A's announce roster traveling to Japan for Opening Series vs. Mariners

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USATSI

A's announce roster traveling to Japan for Opening Series vs. Mariners

The A's officially have announced their 30-man roster for their trip to Japan.

Oakland will bring 15 pitchers and 15 position players. Here's the full list:

Starting pitchers: Brett Anderson, Chris Bassitt, Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Frankie Montas

Relief pitchers: Jerry Blevins, Ryan Buchter, Ryan Dull, Liam Hendriks, Yusmeiro Petit, Fernando Rodney, Joakim Soria, Blake Treinen, Lou Trivino, J.B. Wendelken

Catchers: Nick Hundley, Josh Phegley, Beau Taylor

Infielders: Franklin Barreto, Marcus Semien, Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Cliff Pennington, Chad Pinder, Jurickson Profar

Outfielders: Mark Canha, Khris Davis, Robbie Grossman, Ramón Laureano, Stephen Piscotty

At first glance, there are no major surprises. Taylor makes the cut as the third catcher due to Chris Herrmann's knee injury.

On the infield, Pennington is unlikely to make the 25-man roster, but he provides some experience and versatility.

Blevins, Dull and Wendelken are battling for the final bullpen spot on the 25-man roster, and all three will make the trip to Tokyo.

[RELATED: Three A's relievers competing for final spot in bullpen]

The A's will bring five starting pitchers, though Jesús Luzardo and Aaron Brooks are staying in Arizona to continue their normal throwing schedule. Both still are in the running for the No. 5 starter job to begin the season.

The A's will have to set a 28-man roster for their two exhibition games against the Nippon Ham Fighters on March 17 and March 18. Players on the 28-man roster must be on the 40-man roster. Currently, Hundley, Taylor, Pennington, and Blevins are not on the 40-man roster.

Oakland can keep its 28-man roster for its regular-season series against the Mariners, but only 25 players can be active for those games March 20 and 21.