Lowrie, Young see their usual spots gone on new team

Published: Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4C
Last Modified: Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013 - 9:10 am

PHOENIX – Jed Lowrie and Chris Young could find themselves bonding during the next six weeks as each man tries to carve out a role for himself with the A's during spring training.

Both men are established at one position, shortstop for Lowrie and center field for Young. Given the state of Oakland's roster, both men have an excellent chance of spending more time at other positions, both during the spring and in the regular season.

Shortstop is given over to Hiroyuki Nakajima and center field is the domain of Coco Crisp. Neither position is completely locked down, but Lowrie and Young would have to be considered major underdogs to play the positions they've always played.

But as Lowrie said after arriving at the A's camp Saturday morning, that's just the way baseball goes.

"It is an uncertain situation," Lowrie said. "I consider myself a shortstop. But I was an All-American playing second base in college (Stanford), so it's not like I have no experience there. I prefer shortstop, but I have the opportunity to play for a team that won the division last year, and I like that idea a lot."

Lowrie, a starting shortstop with the Astros last year when injury wasn't keeping him down, and Young, who was an All-Star center fielder with the Diamondbacks, both join the first day of Oakland full-squad workouts today without a set spot.

The 28-year-old Lowrie, acquired from the Astros in the Chris Carter trade, will get work at second, third and a little at first in addition to short. For the moment, Young, 29, will be the outfield backup and could see time at the designated hitter.

It's not going to be easy for either player, manager Bob Melvin said.

"I'll map it out so he'll know a few days in advance where he'll be playing," Melvin said of Lowrie. "… I talked to him about it. He didn't complain. And I told him things will work themselves out this spring."

Lowrie came aboard as insurance at short and will share playing time with Nakajima during the first full week of camp that starts today. He has a better chance of being a starter at second base, where he's in competition with Scott Sizemore, Jemile Weeks, Adam Rosales and perhaps Eric Sogard.

Young doesn't appear to have as great a chance to become a starter, unless it's as the DH or unless the decision is to have him and Crisp split time between center and DH.

That's a bit of a comedown, but so was the 2012 season, when Young saw his power production (14 homers and 41 RBIs) fall to half of his production of 2010 (27 and 91) when he was an All-Star for Arizona.

"That will be hard for him," Melvin said of Young not just playing in left and right in games but in working out in both positions this spring. "There is pride involved. For now, the days he'll get in center will be the days Coco has off."

Melvin said Nakajima and Lowrie would get about the same amount of work at shortstop this week. As camp progresses, Nakajima will stay at short and Lowrie will move to second, third and perhaps first.

There is an outside chance the A's will go with a platoon at first base, although the spring starts with Brandon Moss as the everyday player. Both he and Daric Barton, who started for a chunk of 2012, are left-handed.

Outfielders Michael Taylor, a right-hander, and left-hander Shane Peterson, seeing the densely crowded outfield, already have picked up gloves and are working some at first base. Melvin said another left-handed outfielder, Shane Smith, is open to playing there, too.

Notes – Sizemore and his wife, Brooke, are parents for the first time with the birth Friday of their daughter, Layla. It's not clear if Sizemore will be on the field today for the A's first workout; Melvin is giving the veteran whatever time he needs.

• Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and infielders Addison Russell and Darwin Perez were scheduled to fly into Phoenix on Saturday and be in uniform this morning.

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Read more articles by John Hickey



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