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.