SEATTLE – A’s manager Bob Melvin talked of how well outfielder Sam Fuld meshed in the clubhouse, and of the many contributions he made on the field.
That didn’t save Fuld on Saturday, however, when he was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for outfielder Craig Gentry, who came off the 15-day disabled list.
[RELATED: Sam Fuld designated for assignment]
Fuld was a pleasant under-the-radar find for Oakland late in the offseason. He made the team as a non-roster spring invitee and contributed right away when the regular season started. But Melvin said Fuld got caught up in a numbers game with four other outfielders on the roster – Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Gentry and Josh Reddick.
“More than anything it was how much is a fifth outfielder going to get to play?” Melvin said before Saturday’s game against the Mariners. “We have Brandon Moss, who can play some outfield too. But again , it was a tough decision for us and I wish (Fuld) the best. He’s a terrific person and he fit in very well here. He implied to me that he had a lot of fun here and felt great here, and that has a lot to do with him being such a good person and fitting into the clubhouse.”
The A’s have 10 days to trade or release Fuld, or send him to the minors if he were to clear waivers. That seems unlikely given that teams around the majors saw what an impact Fuld made for Oakland. He is excellent defensively at all three outfield spots and runs the bases well too.
First baseman Daric Barton, who is hitting just .100 (2 for 20) seemed another logical candidate to be let go Saturday for Gentry. But although Barton has made a couple defensive blunders of late, the A’s value his glove at first, so it appears he will continueto see time at first and Moss will see considerable action at designated hitter and possibly the outfield.
But A’s fans will finally see the wraps taken off Gentry, who hasn’t played in a single exhibition or regular-season game this season due to a strained lower back he suffered early in spring training. Acquired from Texas along with Josh Lindblom in the trade that sent Michael Choice to the Rangers, Gentry is considered one of the major leagues’ fastest players and a terrific defender in his own right.
“The last thing you want, period, is to get hurt,” Gentry said, “especially coming to a new team. But it’s one of those things you’ve gotta deal with and move on. I’m happy I’m able to be here now.”
Melvin said Gentry, a right-handed hitter likely will draw two starts in the upcoming series against the Los Angeles Angels, who are slated to start left-handers on Monday and Wednesday.
Could Gentry form a platoon in right field with Josh Reddick, who returned to the lineup Saturday but is hitting just 3 for 29?
“It just depends,” Melvin said. “It depends on how Red’s swinging it. It depends on how much rest Coco needs. One thing we’ve always had in an extra outfielder here is to be able to give Coco a day off and use him in the DH spot. (Gentry) definitely can do that.”
Crisp is playing center Saturday after not starting the previous four games because of a sore left wrist that he received a cortisone shot for Sunday.
“He said yesterday after batting practice, ‘I’m ready,’” Melvin said. “That’s all I needed to hear from him. I really rely on the feedback I get from him.”