But the A's infielder will simply be an observer until further notice, as he informed MLB.com on Thursday that he's recovering from surgery on his hampered right foot, which initially forced an early end to Rosales' 2010 season in August after a long bout with ankle soreness.
Rosales, 27, underwent the procedure on Dec. 8, when debris around the navicular bone was cleaned and two screws were inserted to aid in the healing process, which is expected to last three to four months.
It's no surprise, though, that the always-amped Rosales -- who is sporting a boot and crutches -- is hoping for three months. More specifically, March 15 -- just past the midway point of Spring Training.
"I'm hoping I'll be 100 percent, like it never happened, by that day," Rosales said by phone. "I think it's reasonable, and hopefully I'll be back before that. I'm going to do the best I can to stay in shape so that I'm ready to go then -- working out my upper body, stretching, making sure my hips and everything else are good."
Rosales' expectant optimism, he said, has outbalanced the frustration that's come along with the four-month process. Still, "it's a bummer," he noted, especially given he was one of many who wanted to leave behind a 2010 season that saw the A' s use the disabled list 23 times.
"It just wouldn't heal," he said. "That bone, it's a tough bone to heal. I didn't realize the degree of severity, so it was a surprise to me that I needed the surgery. I think any bone in the foot takes a long time to heal because there's no blood flow in that area of the body. We're on our feet so much, and you have to make sure it heals all the way. I have to be really cautious. I've learned a lot of lessons from it because it's been a long process. It takes a lot of patience.
"This started back in August, so I thought I'd be 100 percent by now. I was hoping, but every time I went back to the doctor, it just wasn't healed."
Early in the offseason, Rosales was braced in a walking boot and took advantage of a pain-free feeling by taking part in stationary bike activities. Once told that the stress fracture was still there, he was directed to stay off the foot for four weeks. Still, though, nothing changed.
"We thought that would completely heal it, just being off of it for that long," he said. "We tried to do everything we could to make it heal on its own because it's best if it heals on its own. Knowing I had to have the surgery was pretty devastating, but, like I said, I'm learning a lot."
Before the onset of his injury in August, Rosales was batting .271 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs in 80 games and was the first A's player since 1995 to start at least one game at six positions. That super utility role proved a perfect fit for both the club and Rosales, who feels rather confident about his Opening Day status but at the same time is remaining realistic and putting no timestamp on baseball activities.
"It depends on what the team thinks," he said. "Spring Training is all about getting in reps, getting swings, taking ground balls. I think I'll be ready, but the team has to confirm that, and they have to believe I'm ready to contribute to the team and be an asset to the team. I guess it's not my decision, even though I want to say yes.
"They're kind of keeping me on a day-by-day basis. They don't want me to get too excited. I'm just kind of doing what they say."
Steve Tolleson and Eric Sogard both represent possible candidates to fill the utility role should Rosales not be ready by season's start. Both figure to see plenty of work during spring, anyway, as shortstop Cliff Pennington is also recovering from surgery -- an October operation on his left shoulder to repair a labrum tear -- and isn't expected to take to the field until mid-March at the earliest.
In the meantime, Rosales will stay the safe route with help from assistant trainer Walt Horn, who is also already in Arizona. New head trainer Nick Paparesta will be in tow shortly, as well. Rosales' navicular bone has to heal around the screws, so he'll be constantly placing the foot in a whirlpool to make sure his range of motion is still intact. The next step, then, will be lightly walking on it again.
"As frustrating as it's been, it's a lot more comforting knowing it's healing the right way now," Rosales said. "I know for sure now what it's going to take to get back. Before, I kept fooling myself. I thought it was four to six weeks to start off with, and then I found out it was a couple more weeks, and then a couple more."
The A's infielder, as he's done in years past, was hoping to play winter ball in Mexico for at least a month in an effort to tally at-bats. The crutches, which made several appearances with Rosales at the Oakland Coliseum late last season, were supposed to be forgotten by now.
"It's hard right now being here with all the guys," he said. "There are guys here hitting and running, and here I am watching, so now I'm thinking maybe I should have just stayed at home. It's good to be down here, of course, but it's frustrating to show up here and know that everyone was expecting me to be off crutches. Through adversity, you just gotta stay positive. Hopefully it's just a bump in the road and I can carry on."