Spotlight shines on Pinder's athleticism, A's young trio in win over Giants

Spotlight shines on Pinder's athleticism, A's young trio in win over Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Unpredictability suits Chad Pinder well.

When he looks at the lineup, the A’s utility man can’t be sure what spot he might be playing on a given day.

On Wednesday night it was left field, where he’d played just once before this season.

Who would have known?

Pinder made a splendid catch in the gap to rob Miguel Gomez to end the fifth and airlift starting pitcher Daniel Gossett from the only real trouble he faced all night in the A’s 6-1 victory over the Giants at AT&T Park.

“Heck of a play. Heck of an athlete,” Gossett said.

Pinder was part of a young trio in the middle of Oakland’s lineup that came up big as the A’s controlled the third game of this Bay Bridge Series from the outset.

Cleanup man Ryon Healy hit a two-run homer to give him 20 for the season. Matt Chapman doubled home a run in the second and added a single. And Pinder, making his presence felt at the plate as well, had an RBI single in the seventh and reached base two other times.

Those three don’t figure to bat 4-5-6 often, at least not in the present. But a hamstring issue with regular cleanup hitter Khris Davis necessitated some shuffling, and manager Bob Melvin went with a righty-dominated lineup against Giants left-hander Matt Moore, which meant Healy played first base over Yonder Alonso.

Watching Healy, Pinder and Chapman click offensively while bunched together in the lineup had to please Melvin. All three are 25 or younger, and all three represent key pieces of the A’s future.

Melvin was asked before the game if he’ll manage these final two months differently with the A’s out of contention and so many young players at his disposal.

“We’re gonna take a good hard look at these guys,” he said. “We gave them a little more prominent positions in the order today and all of them came through.”

Pinder, who returned from a hamstring injury Monday, will be in the lineup often. He just can’t be sure where. He is Melvin’s Swiss Army knife, able to adapt to whatever position he’s most needed on a given day. He’s a shortstop by trade, but he’s shown a surprising comfort level in the corner outfield spots.

He’s got a terrific arm for right field, and in robbing Gomez in left, he adjusted nicely to the slice of the ball off the bat of a left-handed hitter.

Surely his outlook on his utility role agrees with Melvin too.

“I tell you this, any spot on the field is a spot that I want to be,” Pinder said. “Being out on the field is the ultimate thing. Just contributing someplace, somehow, is all I want to do.”

Melvin also says Pinder can expect an occasional look in center field.

“Just probably need to add some more gloves to the collection,” Pinder said with a grin.

He was part of a youthful trio Wednesday that gave A’s fans plenty to smile about.

Kaval calls A's ballpark plan 'as big a project' as Oakland has seen


Kaval calls A's ballpark plan 'as big a project' as Oakland has seen

OAKLAND — A’s president Dave Kaval took part in a fan Q&A session Friday at the Coliseum as part of the team’s Fan Appreciation Weekend.

Here’s some bits and pieces from the session, which was moderated by A’s radio broadcaster Ken Korach:

—Would the A’s re-consider the Coliseum site for a new ballpark if the Peralta location ultimately doesn’t work out?

Kaval: “We’re 100 percent focused on Peralta. We think it can be a dynamic location, and we’re excited about engaging the community. .. But we’re not abandoning East Oakland.”

To that end, Kaval emphasized once again the A’s ambition for the Coliseum site — if all of the current professional teams do in fact bolt the location — to eventually house a youth sports academy with baseball fields and other facilities.

“Wouldn’t it be something to have more home-grown players playing at our (new) ballpark?”

—What other ballparks might be inspirations for design of the venue?

“I think the two guiding principles we have, are, 1) that it’s an intimate ballpark. Not a bad seat in the house. No nosebleeds. Think Fenway or Wrigley (plans are for a roughly 35,000 seat stadium). And 2) build something uniquely Oakland. Something that feels like Oakland, whether it’s an Oaklandish store (built in to the stadium), or the foodie culture …”

—Addressing how city and county funds might be utilized, Kaval emphasized that the ballpark itself will be privately financed, as has been stated before. He mentioned public funds being used for infrastructure (also a long-established idea), including possible enhancements to the Lake Merritt BART station, which is a short walk from the proposed stadium location.

“We’ll work together with the county, with the city, with (the) Peralta (Community College District). This is as big a project as the city has ever seen, a massive coordinating effort.”

—As Kaval told NBC Sports California in this story last week, the A’s plan to retain a good chunk of their current young core of talent to be the cornerstone players once the new stadium opens. Their target move-in date is Opening Day, 2023. That likely means sinking money into long-term extensions for players who will be arriving at, or nearing, their free agency years. Kaval mentioned the Cleveland Indians of the early 90’s as an example of a team opening a new stadium with a home-grown group of stars. Billy Beane, the head of the A’s baseball operations, has made the same comparison in the past.

— The A’s plan to build substantial parking, but the idea is for the new ballpark to be “(public) transit-first, like AT&T Park and Fenway,” Kaval said. … “It’s gonna take cars off the road.”

Having said that, Kaval added that the A’s will aim to preserve the tailgating culture with the parking that they do provide.

Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?


Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?

Don’t count out top prospect Franklin Barreto as a possibility for the A’s in center field.

It’s long been speculated that the middle infielder might eventually get a look in center, and the idea has at least been discussed in team circles. It’s tied partially to whether the A’s exercise their $6 million club option on Jed Lowrie and bring him back as their regular second baseman in 2018.

Regardless, the battle to be Oakland’s everyday center fielder will be one of the A’s most intriguing storylines next spring. Grady Fuson, a special assistant to general manager David Forst who spends much of the season evaluating the team’s farm system, discussed several of the team’s center field options in the latest A’s Insider Podcast.

So much revolves around the health of 22-year-old Dustin Fowler, one of three prospects the A’s received from the Yankees for Sonny Gray. He’ll spend the winter continuing to rehab from a devastating knee injury suffered in his very first major league game in June while still with New York.

The A’s are hopeful he’ll be ready for spring training and believe he can be a solution in center.

“Fowler certainly is the guy we made this trade for, and I think everybody, top to bottom, in the system is counting on him taking that spot,” Fuson said. “But we all know he’s been hurt. How he comes back, who knows? Boog (Powell’s) been doing a very good job for us. And there’s other options.”

The 21-year-old Barreto, who has split time between second and short this season at Triple-A and with the big club, played some center in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2015. He’s always talked with enthusiasm about the idea.

The A’s experimented with another highly touted young infielder, Yairo Munoz, in center field in the minors this season.

“(We’ve) had discussions about taking Munoz out there, which we’ve done,” Fuson said. “We’ve had discussions about maybe Franklin Barreto, depending on what happens at second here at end of the year, over the winter, and early in camp.”

Lowrie has enjoyed a very strong season with Oakland, and A’s executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane has said the team is seriously considering picking up his option. Having Barreto be an option in center could be a way to keep him in the majors in 2018 even if Lowrie returns at second base.

Fuson stressed that the idea of Barreto in center hasn’t advanced past the early-discussion phase. No decisions have been made.

What’s interesting is that, in a short time, the A’s have gone from scarce few center field options to suddenly having several. Powell and Fowler may enter the spring as front runners, but Munoz, Jaycob Brugman, Chad Pinder, Jake Smolinski and, perhaps, Barreto may all have a shot too.

The A’s also used their first-round pick in June on high school center fielder Austin Beck, who represents another option down the road.