A's Fuld making demotion difficult to fathom

A's Fuld making demotion difficult to fathom
April 4, 2014, 7:30 am
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Sam Fuld is 3-for-9 with two triples, two RBI, a run and a stolen base in two games. (USATSI)

OAKLAND -- Sam Fuld looks like a guy trying to cram in as much fun as possible with the Oakland A’s before it all gets taken away.

Then again, how could it be taken away with the way he’s playing?

One of the subplots developing in the early, early going for the A’s is whether they find a way to keep Fuld on their 25-man roster once Craig Gentry inevitably comes off the disabled list. It’s sure tough to envision Fuld being shown the exit right now.

He wasn’t the hero in Thursday night’s 3-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners. That would be Coco Crisp, who blasted his first career walk-off homer in the bottom of the 12th off Hector Noesi.

[RECAP: Crisp delivers first career walk-off home run]

But Fuld was in the middle of much that went right for Oakland leading up to that moment. Just like he was while batting leadoff in Wednesday’s nightcap of a doubleheader against Cleveland, when he spelled Crisp in center.

The former Stanford star has been incredibly opportunistic since signing a minor league deal with the A’s shortly before spring training began. His dynamic defense, versatility and general ability to make good things happen has impressed manager Bob Melvin as well as his teammates.

“As an opposing player, he was a very difficult out,” Crisp said of Fuld. “Defensively, he’s as sound as you get out there -- a Gold Glove-caliber glove. And he’s fast. Even though stat-wise he doesn’t show power, there is some sock in that bat.

“He’s a hard-nosed player. I love the way he plays.”

Gentry, one of the game's fastest players who was acquired from Texas in the offseason to serve as an important bench player, missed all of the Cactus League exhibition season with a strained lower back. But he’s been playing in minor league games and is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday.

[REWIND: Gentry to start season on DL]

It may not happen that day, as Gentry’s playing schedule got put on hold temporarily because he joined his wife for the birth of their daughter, Emerson, earlier this week. But he’ll be back soon enough, and the A’s will be left with a decision:

Do they keep Fuld as a fifth outfielder? It would mean bumping someone else from the 25-man roster. Do they extend Gentry’s DL stint, giving him more time to play his way into shape and buying time to continue evaluating Fuld?

Melvin said he hasn’t thought that far ahead yet, and Fuld is content to just enjoy the present.

“You just try to make the most of your opportunities,” Fuld said. “You can only control so much. Right now all I can control is how I play.”

Fuld is 3 for 9 with two RBI in two games. Two of his hits are triples, and one of them on Thursday nearly turned into the A’s first inside-the-park home run since Nick Swisher’s in June 2006 against the Yankees. Fuld lined a ball that skipped past Mariners center fielder Abraham Almonte and rolled to the wall. He motored all the way around the bases but was out at home by a decent margin.

The play went to a replay review to determine if Mariners catcher Mike Zunino was blocking the plate illegally. Fuld knew he wasn’t.

“I felt like I had a refrigerator on my back,” he said. “My legs were tired.”

He also made a terrific sliding catch to rob Logan Morrison in the sixth and save a run to keep the A’s within 2-1.

Fuld is finding lots of ways to make an impact for the A’s. Now it’s a matter of how long he’s allowed to do so.

 

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