A's look for Lowrie, Young to play a variety of positions
03/08/2013 12:00 AM
03/08/2013 6:25 AM
PHOENIX – Before the A's played the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, Jed Lowrie hadn't played third base in a major-league game since 2011. And Chris Young had not played left field.
"In any game," Young said. "At any level."
But that's where each found himself on manager Bob Melvin's lineup card.
Both players, acquired by the A's this winter, may be asked to play multiple positions this season. So Lowrie, a natural shortstop, and Young, a former All-Star center fielder, are using spring training to acquaint themselves with different surroundings.
Both fared well Thursday. Lowrie made a diving play on a grounder to his left and battled the sun to catch a popup. Young made all the plays that came his way, including a shallow fly ball in the third inning that he caught on the run.
"That's a tough read, especially with the sun," Melvin said of Young's play. "I don't think actually playing those outfield positions is going to be the problem for him. He's a good outfielder no matter where he is."
Coco Crisp likely will start out getting the bulk of playing time in center field, with Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick in the corner spots.
With the designated hitter role and Young and Seth Smith available, the A's figure to have five outfielders sharing time at four spots.
Young played one game this spring in right field and said his first time in left was "different, for sure."
"It felt extremely awkward the first few innings," he said. "But I think it went good. After I got a ball hit to me, I felt a lot more comfortable. I got three or four balls out there in the outfield, felt like I made the right reads. So positive day for sure."
Young said he doesn't know where he'll play most often. He's doing most of his pregame work in center and hoping to learn the corner spots through game experience.
"You do what you have to do," Young said when asked if he welcomes the role. "That's how it's been since I've gotten over here. I understand it's going to be a little different, so as a professional you just try to make the necessary adjustment."
Similarly, Hiroyuki Nakajima is getting the most time at shortstop, where Lowrie played last season with Houston. Lowrie has played 83 career games at third base and 34 at second, and he said that of the three positions, he's probably least comfortable at third.
Lowrie said he views himself as "an everyday shortstop that can play other positions," but he knows his role in Oakland may be different. He said he hasn't talked with Melvin yet about getting reps at first base. Melvin, though, said that likely will happen "at some point."
"Lowrie's handled every position beautifully," he said. "Second, third and short don't seem to be a problem for him."
Melvin acknowledged it's probably easier to sell players on being flexible after frequent platooning helped the A's win the American League West last year.
"I think both of them are team guys and they know what we're trying to do here," Melvin said. "They're going to do the best they can to help the team win."
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