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De Aza squarely in Athletics' 25th-man mix

MLB.com @JaneMLB

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The A's 25th roster spot will certainly be a subject discussed numerous times, involving numerous players, all spring, and an unlikely name -- veteran outfielder Alejandro De Aza -- hopes to be at the forefront of the conversation.

That's why he signed on with the A's, saying, "I was just looking for an opportunity, and I think there is a great chance to play here."

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The A's 25th roster spot will certainly be a subject discussed numerous times, involving numerous players, all spring, and an unlikely name -- veteran outfielder Alejandro De Aza -- hopes to be at the forefront of the conversation.

That's why he signed on with the A's, saying, "I was just looking for an opportunity, and I think there is a great chance to play here."

Entering camp, that might not have appeared to be the case. When forecasting a roster that has the A's keeping five outfielders, rather than a third catcher, or an extra infielder in addition to Adam Rosales, it was easy to assume the last spot belonged to Jake Smolinski.

Smolinski, though, has been slowed by a shoulder injury and has yet to appear in a spring game. De Aza, meanwhile, has seen time in the leadoff spot when Rajai Davis is resting, and he's collected three hits in six at-bats -- including one of only two compiled by the A's on Wednesday in a 5-0 loss to the Padres.

De Aza is a .261 career hitter over parts of nine big league seasons, most recently batting a career-low .205 with the Mets last year -- .158 through the end of June, and .237 the rest of the way.

"He's done a nice job for us," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We've seen him in the past have some good games for us when he was with the White Sox. As a left-handed-hitting veteran outfielder, we knew he would be a guy that would be intriguing in this camp, especially due to our lack of outfielders and center fielders in particular."

De Aza, who will turn 33 in April, can play all three outfield positions and is a pro at the plate, dropping down bunts with no issues and adding speed and smarts on the basepaths. He's also considered a good clubhouse guy; in 2013 with the White Sox, he quickly befriended Marcus Semien, the A's shortstop who, at the time, was a rookie in Chicago.

"He talks to everybody," Semien said. "He's always been good to me. We shared lockers right next to each other. I bounced stuff off of him and he would give me advice. He's a big league outfielder. He's shown that."

Melvin said, "We'll probably go back and forth all spring," when deciding how to fill out the roster.

"If you look at our roster right now, barring any injury," he said, "it looks to be one spot that's open, and Smolinski was probably coming into camp ahead as far as that goes, but he hasn't been able to get on the field yet. I know he's feeling a little bit better, but not to the point where we can get him in a game yet, so we'll probably be talking about that spot several times before we're done."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.

Oakland Athletics, Alejandro De Aza