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Fowler looking to secure A's center-field job

MLB.com @JaneMLB

MESA, Ariz. -- As the A's inch closer to Opening Day, many roster questions still remain. Among them: Who is best suited for center field?

Dustin Fowler is the easy answer, since he was expected to be there all along, but the club has yet to deem the competition closed. Boog Powell continues to make his own case for the job, while Fowler, his locker mate this spring, is playing catchup from right knee surgery and attempting to prove he can hold his own when the season opens.

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MESA, Ariz. -- As the A's inch closer to Opening Day, many roster questions still remain. Among them: Who is best suited for center field?

Dustin Fowler is the easy answer, since he was expected to be there all along, but the club has yet to deem the competition closed. Boog Powell continues to make his own case for the job, while Fowler, his locker mate this spring, is playing catchup from right knee surgery and attempting to prove he can hold his own when the season opens.

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So far, so good.

"Obviously the results haven't really come at the plate, but I'm starting to feel everything I wanted to feel," said Fowler, who went 1-for-2 in Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Brewers in Phoenix. "Timing is getting there, and I'm starting to have competitive at-bats. I'm not really where I want to be, but I'm season-ready right now. I think I'm not going to be overmatched or anything like that."

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Fowler, who underwent surgery in June following a gruesome injury that spoiled his big league debut with the Yankees, has had zero issues with the knee this spring. This has allowed him to shift his focus from health to performance as camp winds down.

The A's open the regular season against the Angels on March 29.

"We're comfortable with the at-bats, it's just the physicality part of it," manager Bob Melvin said recently of Fowler. "As of right now, I feel good about where he is physically as long as there's no setbacks. We always want a youngster swinging the bat well toward the end of spring, but he's hit every mile marker that we've had for him."

Fowler, who picked up a single on Wednesday, is hitting .189, while Powell owns a .270 average.

"Right now my swing is about where it normally is, but I had to kind of start from square one," Fowler said. "Usually I go into spring kind of having a decent feel for where my swing is, but I went so long without having at-bats, and now I've kind of forgot how to do it, I have bad habits I have to get away from. But now I'm starting to feel like myself again and happy with where I'm at right now."

Getting extra at-bats on the Minor League side earlier this month helped Fowler break those habits, and he's since been cleared to play the field in back-to-back games, which is also aiding his progression.

"At the time, you don't feel like you're getting much out of those Minor League at-bats," he said, "but right now, I'm thankful I got them. They were much needed and much help and kind of gave me the comfortability factor back again.

"I know we have just a little bit of time left to be able find them things, but right now I think I'm ready, and hopefully they give me the shot to see what I can do over there."

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

Oakland Athletics, Dustin Fowler