GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Jake Elmore first stepped on a baseball field, his Little League coach told the team, "Go pick your position." Elmore ran to first base.
Before long, he moved to catcher, then shortstop. In high school, he started in the outfield, before going back behind the plate again. His college career began in center field. But he returned to shortstop soon enough and, eventually, a move to second base followed.
In the Minors, he played everywhere but center field.
"So, yeah, I've never really stuck to one," Elmore said, smiling.
That's what made him so attractive to the A's, a versatile bunch who grabbed Elmore through a trade with the White Sox in late February. Since then, Elmore is 12-for-39 (.308) with a .400 on-base percentage in 18 spring games and has also sported a slick glove at third base and the middle-infield positions.
He'll begin the season at Triple-A Sacramento, providing the A's a quality piece of infield depth.
"He fits right in here as far as his versatility goes," said manager Bob Melvin. "He plays all of the infield positions plus for me. He looks just as comfortable in all those positions and gives you a tough at-bat. We've been giving him a lot of games, a lot of reps here, and he's impressed us.
"As far as depth goes, he's a guy that really gives you the potential to really play any one of those positions. And if he were to be here, could fill in at any of those positions, so he's been a nice pickup for us."
"I feel like everybody kind of has a role here, yet those roles constantly change for some guys, and that's the mold I fit," said Elmore, who played all nine positions in just 52 games for the Astros last year. "The word around the league is that the A's like versatile guys. Being able to play the three different positions, that was the biggest thing I wanted to show them, that I could handle third and short and second."
Cook progressing, but Opening Day status uncertain
PHOENIX -- Ryan Cook felt great after throwing 21 pitches to hitters on Wednesday, and the A's right-hander is finally nearing non-simulated game action.
Cook, who was set back this spring by right shoulder inflammation, would like to make his Cactus League debut on Saturday, though his employers have yet to say as much. Nevertheless, whether it's Saturday or another day, he's close.
But close enough to have enough time to be ready for the season?
"I guess it just depends on how it goes," Cook said. "If I get in there and I'm ready to go, then I'm ready to go. That's not my decision to make, I guess. All I can do is my best to be ready. We knew it was going to come down to the wire. I think I can still do it. In terms of the questions of my arm, there isn't any. Now it's just a matter of making pitches. Today I felt like I made a lot of pitches."
Cook used all of his pitches on the day and said more than once, "It went really well."
"I did everything," he continued. "I threw right-on-right changeups, threw my slider, all of it, just to work on stuff. It was nice being at game speed today. Obviously, the adrenaline isn't there, but the game speed, in terms of my arm and my pitches and my mental approach was there. I was trying to get guys out, as opposed to just throw 20 pitches.
"I'm getting ready now. I'm trying to get in a game as soon as possible and make the Opening Day series."
If Cook isn't ready by then, the A's are likely to have either Joe Savery or Josh Lindblom join a bullpen that is expected to include right-handers Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson, Dan Otero and Evan Scribner, and southpaws Sean Doolittle and Fernando Abad.
• Lefty Drew Pomeranz has quietly been the A's best pitcher of late, allowing just two hits with 10 strikeouts and no walks over his last six innings, spanning three appearances. Overall, he has 14 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings this spring.
The A's see more value in Pomeranz as a starter than a reliever, so they plan to stretch him out, even if that means starting him at Triple-A when the season begins. Should any one of their starters struggle or face injuries in the early goings, Pomeranz would seemingly get the first call.
• Righty A.J. Griffin, shut down for three weeks with flexor tendinitis, received a platelet rich plasma injection in his right elbow on Monday and mentioned Wednesday how his arm already feels looser than it has in a long time.
Griffin is expected to miss at least the first month of the season.