John Fay gives us some news on the position battles currently being waged:
Right Field – Kearns leading over WMP. Fay says that Bowden is trying to get one or the other, but O’Brien is not going to trade either one. I think this is where O’Brien’s conservative nature is a positive.
Shortstop – “Felipe Lopez has to make the routine plays to have a chance against Rich Aurilia in the shortstop race.” I’ve thought all along that Lopez has been set up to fail here. Everything tells me that it’s Aurillia’s job to lose, which is unfortunate. I saw him a good deal last year in San Diego, and he looked like a guy with nothing left. Lopez can be frustrating, but that’s what a young player is, often. His positives are being ignored, and the negatives being focused on — I bet that if you put the same requirement on Aurillia (“no errors on routine plays”), you could find a reason to demote him, too.
Third Base – Fay says that Encarnacion looks ready for the bigs, and might have won the job if they hadn’t signed Joe Randa. If so, that’s a sign of pretty poor internal scouting – or a sign that O’Brien prefers the Proven (to be mediocre) Veteran to the promising youngster.