Position players join the fold
Today’s the official reporting day for A’s position players, which has turned out to be just as anticlimactic as expected, with most everyone having already been working in camp for several days. Still, a few big names had yet to make their arrival as of early Saturday morning: Yoenis Cespedes, Seth Smith and Jed Lowrie, along with 2012 first-round Draft pick Addison Russell. All are anticipated for an on-time arrival in advance of Sunday’s first full-squad workout.
This is where things get fun. The A’s have so many moving parts between the outfield and infield, and this is when we finally get to see how they come together. Second base should draw the most attention throughout the duration of camp, with Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore in battle for an everyday job, while the A’s also hand out playing time to Jed Lowrie, Grant Green, Adam Rosales and Eric Sogard there too. Bob Melvin reiterated on Saturday that Lowrie will bounce around the infield, but I suspect he’ll see plenty time at second base, just like all of the other guys mentioned, so that he has time to develop a relationship with shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima.
Lowrie, a natural shortstop, is understanding of his rover role, as it allows Nakajima to solely focus on adjusting at one position. There’s a lot being thrown at him as is, and the A’s don’t need him worrying about fielding at multiple spots right now — though Melvin said Nakajima has told him he’d be willing to do anything for the team, a gesture that further speaks volumes to his character.
As for Sizemore, who played third base for Oakland in 2011, he’ll spend the majority of his time at second but will also get some reps at the hot corner, since he’s the best insurance option there in the event Josh Donaldson experiences injury or prolonged struggles.
In the outfield, Chris Young will play the role of rover, despite having never moved from center field — a spot reserved for Coco Crisp in Oakland — in his career. He’ll see time in all three outfield positions this spring, and Melvin, already very much familiar with Young’s work ethic from their time together in Arizona, is confident that he’ll be able to smoothly handle the changes. Still, he understands “it’s going to be hard,” he said.
“The first time he has to go into another position, there’s a lot of pride that comes into play, especially considering how good of a center fielder he is,” Melvin explained. “Therefore, I know how difficult it’s going to be his first couple of times out there, not only in a game in a different position but doing work at a different position. I’m very understanding of that but he knows what’s expected.”
Bottom line: Don’t expect to see the same lineup trotted out back-to-back days not only during preseason games but regular-season games, as well.
“We have a good group here,” Melvin said, “and we’re going to find the right combinations. With this time here, we’re able to figure out where everything fits, and then come up with some kind of formula going into the season that works for everybody.”