So far, it has been relatively ho-hum for the Oakland A's in spring training. In many ways, that is already an improvement over how last year started.
And even though it is very early, the first week is enough time to allow a few things to surface. Of those early observations, here are the five that stand out for me.
First and foremost, Jemile Weeks looks much more like the player from 2011 who provided excitement and buzz for the A's. After last year's struggles with too many pop-ups and strikeouts, Weeks has leveled his swing and so far gotten back to using his legs as weapons. The stats are not nearly as important as the approach, and Weeks is definitely putting his name in the hat for the second base job.
Thursday, Bartolo Colon was Bartolo Colon. In his first appearance of the spring, Colon pitched two innings against the Chicago Cubs. While there's no denying he used performance-enhancing drugs in 2012, it does not seem to have enhanced his ability to throw strikes. Some of the pitches he threw were wild in the zone, but by and large, this bodes well for his chances of being in the rotation.
Derek Norris is not going to give up the catcher's job without a fight. He smacked two home runs so far and is showing the power swing the A's felt he could eventually have at the big league level. The fight between Norris and John Jaso for the starting spot will be a fascinating one the remainder of the spring.
Addison Russell looks poised beyond his years. The A's number one prospect might just be 19, but a major league roster spot doesn't look far beyond his reach. His eye is better than I anticipated, and Russell's bat control is advanced for a young player. Throw in the fact that his defense is improving by the day, and the A's could have their shortstop of the future in the present much sooner than expected.
The battle for the fifth spot in the rotation might not be the fight many anticipated.
A.J. Griffin has looked razor sharp in camp, and his first appearance was spotless (two innings, one hit, three strikeouts). If Dan Straily is going to take that spot, he will have to be Verlander-esque to do it. Right now: It is Griffin's to lose with the way he is performing.
It's another nice problem with depth for the A's to have.
That is especially true in light of Brett Anderson's first outing, as he went two sharp, scoreless innings. Oakland's depth can be seen all over the field. Let the battles continue.
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