OAKLAND -- It was beautiful.
A’s right fielder Chad Pinder laid out to rob Astros second baseman Jose Altuve of a hit in the top of the fifth inning of Oakland's 8-1 loss to Houston on Thursday night at the Coliseum.
You could see A’s starter Chris Bassitt smile with relief as the team ran off the field with the inning over. It was exactly the type of play the team was accustomed to seeing out of Pinder.
“He’s an elite athlete, and we have a lot of elite defenders kind of around the outfield, infield, don’t really matter,” Bassitt said. “We’re going to see greatness a lot this year, and we’re going to have to answer these questions quite often, but Pinder’s catches in the outfield are pretty awesome.”
Catches, plural, because Pinder made another incredible grab in the fourth inning.
Pinder credits scouting the outfield during batting practice ahead of games to his defensive success.
“Just getting reads in the outfield during BP, I think that’s the biggest thing you can do in the outfield, and today, I was actually joking around with some of the guys out there it was abnormal how many balls I got during BP to get some balls off the bat,” Pinder said. “It paid off today.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin echoed Bassitt’s sentiments.
“It doesn’t surprise me anymore,” Melvin said.
And while Pinder is not a big name across the league, Melvin said for those who aren’t aware of him, the utility player is easy to describe.
“He’s a terrific player all the way around, I mean, for a guy that’s played the infield most of his career in the minor leagues and in the big leagues early on, we put him in the outfield for the first time, he threw a guy out his first game and just has great instincts in the outfield,” Melvin said. “It’s hard to play as many positions as he does and do it really well in the outfield when he had very little experience once he started his big league career.”
On Wednesday, A’s general manager David Forst spoke about Pinder, saying how he plans to use him. It would be easy enough to have someone of his versatility anywhere, but it appeared Pinder will have plenty of chances in the A’s 2021 lineup.
“I know Bob has talked to Chad all spring, you obviously saw him play a number of positions during spring training, he played all around the infield, both corners in the outfield,” Forst said. “We always said Chad’s versatility is a huge benefit to our roster. I think you’ll see it play out the first couple weeks of the season, that he’s valuable to Bob. We’ll make sure we get everybody in there, particularly early to get the bats going, and guys will settle into their roles more so after the first weeks of games, but there’s no doubt that Chad remains valuable to the team, and I think he’ll find his way into the lineup.”