OAKLAND -- There are utility players, there are super-utility players and then there's Chad Pinder.
It's not just that Pinder can play a lot of positions -- he's already played six this year -- it's that he plays them all with near Gold Glove-level proficiency.
"He's a baseball player," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "Wherever we put him, he's done really well. ... Not many guys are able to go out there defensively and play positions they're not used to and do as well as he has."
Pinder hasn't just earned the respect and admiration of his manager. Every single player in the A's clubhouse feels the same way.
"The guy's a gamer," starting pitcher Mike Fiers said. "No matter where you put him, he's going to play hard."
This season, Pinder has played every position except pitcher, catcher, and shortstop, though he has played 34 games at shortstop throughout his career. The 27-year-old has made highlight-reel plays at every one of those positions.
"I just like being out there," Pinder said. "Any opportunity I get to be out on the field, I want to be out there and just play baseball. It doesn't mean I'm not going to make mistakes. It doesn't mean I'm not going to have bad routes in the outfield. It doesn't mean I'm not going to make errors in the infield. But every opportunity out there, you play hard and let the game come to you, not try to do too much. I enjoy it."
Last week against the Astros, Pinder made his first start of the season in center field, and it didn't take long for him to get tested. In the third inning, Houston's Robinson Chirinos ripped a low line drive to shallow center. Pinder immediately broke in, charged at full speed, and made a terrific diving catch.
"Everywhere we put him, he seems to come up with plays like that," Melvin marveled. "I was talking to him before the game and he said the one hard one in center is that line drive right at you. That's the one you really just can't get a good jump on. And the first one that's hit to him is a line drive right in front of him and he gets a great jump and makes a great play."
To Pinder, his ability to make those plays flows from the way he plays the game.
"You just try to anticipate things. You just play aggressive and, if you make mistakes, at least you do it playing aggressively."
Pinder's mistakes certainly have been few and far between. In 93 games this season, he only has committed three errors. Still, he knows he has room for improvement, especially playing the infield positions.
"Shortstop is definitely the toughest position," Pinder revealed. "For me this year, of the positions that I've played, it's been second base. Anywhere in the outfield, I feel pretty comfortable. It's just about getting reps. When I find out that I'm playing a certain position, I get the reps there."
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Pinder's offensive numbers have been solid as well, with a .250/.295/.442 slash line, 11 home runs, 17 doubles, and 39 RBI in limited action. He has proven more than capable of being an everyday player -- that opportunity likely still will come -- but for now, his value lies in his incredible versatility.