PHOENIX No one in the A's camp has done more to help his cause with less publicity than Eric Sogard.
On a Friday when none of the A's were doing much damage, the left-handed-hitting Sogard hit an opposite-field double against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his only at-bat off the bench.
The second-base hopeful came back Saturday to start against the Los Angeles Angels and promptly pulled a double to right against ace Jered Weaver.
Sogard wound up with four at-bats, adding a second double, but was out of the game when the A's scored three times in the bottom of the ninth to force a 13-13 tie.
It has been a good spring for Sogard, who in a crowded competition at second base has more than caught the eye of manager Bob Melvin.
"Sogard is right in there," Melvin said. "Maybe he hasn't read his name in the newspaper as much as he should have, but that's my fault. He's always been right in there. He's certainly made a case for himself."
There is a sizable crowd at second base, including Jemile Weeks (.389), Scott Sizemore (.148), Jed Lowrie (.333) and Adam Rosales (.300), all of whom have more experience than the 26-year-old Sogard. But no one is having a better spring than Sogard with his .423 average and five doubles.
Sogard made the club out of spring training last year but spent most of the season with the River Cats, batting .331.
Weaver and A's starter Travis Blackley gave up three first-inning runs each. The difference in their outings was that Weaver gave up five runs in the second, and Blackley shut out the Angels in the second and third innings.
The difference in their situations is that Weaver, who allowed homers to Josh Reddick, Luke Montz and Yoenis Cespedes, is the Angels' Opening Day starter, and Blackley isn't even guaranteed a spot in the A's bullpen, although he was a big pickup for Oakland last year, making 15 starts and nine relief outings.
"I don't have the luxury of giving up an eight-spot in two innings and still being the Opening Day starter," Blackley said with a bit of humor.
Et cetera Opening Day starter Brett Anderson said he's on track to be ready for April 1 against the Seattle Mariners after pitching five innings in a minor-league game against the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, Ariz.
After being troubled by a sore neck and back, he allowed five hits, four walks and two earned runs. "Today was just to eliminate the doubts," Anderson said, although he added he didn't have many. "The last two starts will be to hone in on my pitches. My command wasn't very good, but I'm not worried about results."
The A's No. 2 starter, Jarrod Parker, had a rough outing. Parker, who entered the game with a 7.50 ERA, threw three innings against the Chicago White Sox in Glendale, Ariz., giving up nine hits, two walks and seven runs (five earned). The A's lost 11-5, getting outhit 17-7, while Parker's ERA soared to 10.00.