The A's will march through spring training without Stephen Piscotty, who was formally shut down Friday with an intercostal strain. Manager Bob Melvin said the veteran would be out indefinitely, though he didn’t rule out a return by Opening Day.
Piscotty starting that March 26 home game is far from certain, but him missing a few games to start the season isn’t a massive blow.
Why? The A's have tons of outfield depth.
Ramon Laureano and Mark Cahna would take up two spots, with Robbie Grossman able to fill in well and play consistently. He played 138 games for the A's last year and Oakland re-signed him in free agency. Chad Pinder can play every position and is comfortable working from the grass. Second baseman Tony Kemp has experience out there, too.
P.S. All those guys can field. All of those guys can hit.
Plan A obviously is having Piscotty play soon and play a ton. He’s a quality all-around player and valued clubhouse presence. There are plenty of alternatives.
“[The outfield] looked really crowded, and that’s a good problem to have,” Melvin told reporters on Friday, via MLB.com. “But the more you do this, the more you realize how important depth is. Not only with pitching, but with position players. It’s very rare now that you get through spring training healthy.
"Things have changed a bit in how you deal with spring training. It’s about getting off the field healthy. We do have some depth there.”
That will allow the A’s to be patient with a regular starter. They can let him get fully healed and ramp up accordingly, into the regular season if necessary. If he starts on the injured list -- that’s a massive “if” at this stage -- it could open a roster spot for an outfield prospect.
At the very least it means more spring training at-bats for promising players in major league camp like Seth Brown, who has some power, or Dustin Fowler, who's trying to reclaim an MLB gig. Skye Bolt is another option.
The A’s could choose to replace Piscotty with another outfielder in a straight position swap, or they could evaluate prospects from other positions considering how much outfield depth already is set to make the club.