Stephen Piscotty

A's have plenty of outfield options should Stephen Piscotty miss time

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A's have plenty of outfield options should Stephen Piscotty miss time

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.”

[RELATED: Why Melvin is confident Khrush will bounce back this season]

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.

A's shut down outfielder Stephen Piscotty with intercostal strain

A's shut down outfielder Stephen Piscotty with intercostal strain

The Athletics have held Stephen Piscotty out of spring training games while dealing with a side injury now revealed to be an intercostal strain. He won’t be making his Cactus League debut anytime soon.

The Pleasanton native has been shut down indefinitely after an MRI showed the injury to be a “little worse” than expected, A’s manager Bob Melvin told reporters in Mesa, Ariz., on Friday morning.

Melvin wouldn’t rule Piscotty out for Opening Day, though he couldn’t provide a timetable for his return.

Piscotty was set to have batting practice Thursday but backed out of the workout, telling the San Francisco Chronicle he would do so soon. MRI results seem to have backed up that prediction somewhat.

[RELATED: Why Melvin is confident Khrush will bounce back this season]

The Athletics are deep in the outfield, and an optimist might say they can sort out a crowded position group by giving at-bats to others for the time being.

“The more you do this, the more important you realize depth is,” Melvin said, via the Chronicle. “It’s very rarely you get through spring training and everyone gets through healthy.”

Why versatile Chad Pinder is most respected player in A's clubhouse

Why versatile Chad Pinder is most respected player in A's clubhouse

MESA, Ariz. -- Chad Pinder played every defensive position for the A's in 2019, minus catcher and pitcher.

“I have so many gloves that I own,” Pinder told NBC Sports California during spring training. “I have an outfielder's glove, a third baseman glove, a middle infielder glove, a first baseman’s mitt … and I just got a catcher’s mitt.”

The 27-year old is the definition of a “super-utility" player. That makes him super valuable, but it doesn’t make his job super easy.

“To put up the numbers he’s put up, with the inconsistent at-bats he’s had, not only that — he’s had to worry about playing every position on the field,” relief pitcher Lou Trivino said. “I think it shows what a talented player he is.”

Stephen Piscotty can easily sum up how teammates view Pinder: “With the utmost respect.”

“Baseball is a lot about rhythm,” Piscotty continued. “And when you’re not playing every day, it’s hard to find that rhythm. He just brings it.”

Pinder also routinely brings “it” as one of the prominent leaders inside Oakland’s clubhouse, even though you might not find him regularly in the starting lineup, or drawing extra personal attention.

“I think it’s just through relationships and building trust,” Pinder shared. “And being friends with everyone in the clubhouse. I’ve always been told since being little to just put my head down and go about my business. Let your actions on the field do the talking. That’s something that I’ve tried to live by.”

Manager Bob Melvin recognizes Pinder’s leadership as so strong, that he can already make this bold prediction: “He’ll be a manager someday.”

“There are times that I call him in my office and say, ‘You know that Chapman guy? Go handle him,' " Melvin shared. “He’s got a great idea how to handle guys, he’s probably as well-liked a guy as we have.”

[RELATED: Where key A's position battles stand before opening day]

Pinder has become an A's fan-favorite for all of his on-field hustle since his 2016 arrival, and a players’ favorite for much of the effort you don’t see.

“What we see too, on the bench is that he’s up in the tunnel in the fifth inning getting ready for that pinch-hit at-bat that may or may not come,” Piscotty shared. “He’s very active and I know how draining that can be, getting all psyched up.”

“I have so many things I like about him. He works hard every single day, he wants to be great,” center fielder Ramon Laureano said. “On the field, and inside the clubhouse, he’s just outstanding. I love the guy. I get happy every time I see him. He’s one of the greatest teammates I’ve ever had.”