PHOENIX -- No one in baseball has compiled as many innings this spring as Josh Donaldson, who is soaking in plenty of time in the infield, while making his case for the starting third-base job.
Donaldson entered Friday with 85 innings to his name and, by day's end, surpassed the 90-innings mark, following his 13th start of the spring. The Braves' Tyler Pastornicky is the next closest, at 70 innings.
This is the A's way of giving Donaldson every opportunity to break camp as the everyday guy at the hot corner, and so far manager Bob Melvin is satisfied with how he's responded -- despite making three errors.
"He's been resilient at third," Melvin said. "This is a lot being thrown at him. He's playing at a new position, he's got a chance to be the starting third baseman. There's a lot coming his way right now, so we're going to be patient with him. Nothing that he has done at this point has made us say, 'We gotta scrap him.' We are still behind him, and we are still gonna run him out there."
At this point, it appears Donaldson will still be there come Opening Day, though the red-hot Eric Sogard is considered a possibility, as is a trade for another third baseman by season's start. But for now, all eyes are on Donaldson, who has 10 hits in 42 at-bats along with four walks.
"I think that you look at the offensive numbers, you see his at-bats are getting better," Melvin said. "He went through a period where his at-bats were good early, and he didn't get much to show for it and went into a bit of a lull. But now his swings are better. He's not getting out front as much."
Cowgill continues to sizzle at the plate
PHOENIX -- When Collin Cowgill entered Friday having reached base in nine consecutive plate appearances, the A's outfielder was well aware of his streak but insistent on not thinking about it.
"I was aware," Cowgill said. "I knew something was going on."
That something extended to 11 plate appearances, as Cowgill laced an RBI double in his first at-bat and followed with a walk three innings later. Cowgill finally saw the streak snapped when he lined out to second base in the sixth. He's hitting .414 (12-for-29) in 12 games this spring, in part a nod to his work with hitting coach Chili Davis.
"I feel great," Cowgill said. "I've been in the cage every day with Chili, made a little adjustment about a week ago. My setup has been fairly violent, and now it's just a little more quiet. I'm a little more relaxed at the plate, allowing myself a little more time to see the ball."
Cowgill's performance would seemingly make him a lock for a roster spot, but the A's are already expected to carry five other outfielders. Along with Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick, the club anticipates rotating outfielders Jonny Gomes and Seth Smith in and out of the designated-hitter spot.
After Friday's game, though, manager Bob Melvin made it clear he would have no problem placing six outfielders on his roster.
"Without tipping my hand, I don't know how he's not on our team at this point," he said of Cowgill.
Melvin rewards Schlichting with a start
PHOENIX -- Travis Schlichting's 6-foot-4 figure is hard to miss as it is, but the right-hander's spring performance is really making him a must-see product.
Manager Bob Melvin has taken notice, and in return is awarding Schlichting with a start on Saturday in a dose of split-squad action. Schlichting gets the nod against the visiting Cubs at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, while lefty Tommy Milone is slated to face off against San Francisco's Tim Lincecum in Scottsdale, Ariz.
In 6 1/3 innings, Schlichting has posted a 0.63 WHIP and .143 opponents' average to go along with six strikeouts and just one walk -- numbers that could make this non-roster invitee a potential long-relief option for the A's.
"He's been a guy that's been able to give us some length," Melvin said. "He's a guy we want to take a longer look at. He's earned the opportunity to start based on he's given us some length and he's pitched well. We'll take a hard look at him."
Schlichting was signed to a Minor League deal in January, following a year-long stay with the Dodgers' Triple-A team, for whom he compiled a 5-3 record and 7.10 ERA with four saves in 51 relief appearances. He struck out 51 in 64 2/3 innings, and A's catcher Anthony Recker wouldn't be surprised if he accounted for more than one of them.
"I know he wasn't my favorite guy to face, that's for sure," Recker said. "From what I've seen so far, he's got really good command of the zone. He's got great stuff and has done really well this spring, and I think he's put himself in a really good position to succeed."
His time as a pitcher has only spanned six years, as he was drafted by the Rays as a third baseman in 2003. But he made the switch after hitting .250/.321/.334 during the first three-plus years of his professional career, never advancing past the Class A level.
Right-hander Graham Godfrey quickly turned a poor outing into an impressive one on Friday, fanning five of his final 10 batters after giving up a run on two hits and a walk in the first inning. He went 3 2/3 innings and is still considered a candidate for the rotation.
It marked quite the turnaround for Godfrey, who said he felt ill in his last appearance on Sunday, when he gave up four runs in two innings in a relief outing.
Righty Bartolo Colon, scratched from his Thursday start because of a blister on his middle finger, tossed 75 pitches in five innings of a simulated game on Friday. Colon came out of the session fine and is expected to make his next scheduled start on Wednesday, as planned.
A's radio broadcaster Ken Korach is scheduled for knee-replacement surgery on Monday, and will be forced to miss the beginning of the season. Ray Fosse will join Vince Controneo for radio broadcasts in Japan next week, but it is not yet known who will fill in for Korach during the time he's away from the team.