Bay Area's Semien in the mix for A's shortstop job

Darron Cummings/AP PhotoOakland Athletics' Ben Zobrist (18) hits in the batting cage during spring training baseball practice Wednesday

MESA — In the last year, the Oakland Athletics traded away two of their top shortstop prospects, Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson.

To fill the hole in their organization, the A's acquired Marcus Semien in a trade this winter.

Now the kid from the Bay Area is set on being in the opening-day lineup for his hometown team.

The 24-year-old Semien was born in San Francisco and played high school and college ball in Berkeley came to the A's in a trade that sent pitcher Jeff Samardzija to the Chicago White Sox.

Semien, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, is seen as a gifted all-around athlete who is quick to the ball on defense and has the potential for some pop at the plate.

A's manager Bob Melvin mentioned the athleticism aspect after the team's first full-squad workout of the spring on Wednesday at Fitch Park.

Semien was put through defensive drills by infield coach Mike Gallego, who also is the team's third base coach.

“Gags' was a good glove man and he will make a great teacher. He will be good for (Semien),” Melvin said.

Semien won't be alone in learning the Oakland way. The three other projected infield starters — third baseman Brett Lawrie, second baseman Ben Zobrist and first baseman Ike Davis — were with other organizations last season.

It is very early in camp, and the job certainly hasn't been handed to Semien. Not yet, anyway.

“We are going to give him every opportunity,” Melvin said. “Now, you have to create your own reps (repetitions) once you are given that opportunity. Our feeling is that he will.”

Semien isn't taking anything for granted.

“The best thing for me was getting in here early, meeting my teammates and the staff,” he said.

He is excited that his family will be able to see him play on a regular basis.

He already has worked a lot with Zobrist around second base so they can establish a rhythm.

“I'm trying to work on every part of the game, the angles, jumps and throws,” Semien said.

He also loves hitting, and said he was fortunate to be able to use some of the facilities over the winter at the University of California-Berkley. Melvin also played at Cal, as did another new Oakland player: infielder-outfielder Mark Canha.

Semien, who has played 85 major league games and has hit eight home runs, likes to think of himself as a complete hitter. But the allure of the home run is there.

“Yeah, I can hit for a little bit of power, but you can't force it. You have to let it come to you,” he said. “I also want to continue to build up my strength.”

He was in two previous spring camps with the White Sox, who drafted him in the sixth round in 2011, but this is a whole new deal.

“I've never been traded, never been in this situation,” he said. “I am going out and playing as hard as I can. I am very hungry. I know I can help this team win.”

NOTES: Melvin addressed the team prior to the workout and had a few players speak. Catcher Stephen Vogt helped interpret some of the new rules with humor reminiscent of late comedian Chris Farley, Melvin said. Owner Lew Wolff was there and had his own walk-up song, “Louie, Louie” (not the oldies version by the Kingsmen). … Melvin gave kudos to his new bench coach, Mike Aldrete, who organized the workout. “That Stanford education paid off,” Melvin said with a mischievous smile. … The team opens Cactus League play at HoHoKam Stadium against the Giants on March 3, and will play intrasquad games the two days before that.

Bob MelvinMarcus SemienMLBOakland A's & MLB

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