A's spring training Day 31: Pinder will get a look in the outfield

A's spring training Day 31: Pinder will get a look in the outfield

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — He’s played all over the infield in his career.

Now Chad Pinder will have his duties expanded even more.

The A’s will look to give the utility man some time in the outfield, trying to pave an easier path to a full-time spot in the majors. Oakland is stocked with young players at third base and second base. Marcus Semien is entrenched at shortstop, with 2015 first-round pick Richie Martin progressing through the pipeline too.

The A’s think highly of Pinder’s bat. He got his first taste of the majors in September, but it’s tough to envision how he fits into the current major league mix.

So the A’s will utilize the “V” word — versatility — that they love so much.

“I think if you’re looking at the next ‘Rosie’ type guy in our organization, it could be Pinder,” manager Bob Melvin said, referencing jack-of-all-positions player Adam Rosales.

Given the surplus of infielders — and relative lack of prime outfield prospects — in the A’s farm sytem, it makes sense to experiment. Renato Nunez, a young third baseman whose bat is ahead of his glove, will see time in left field now that he’s been sent to minor league camp.

HEALTH UPDATE: Stephen Vogt was back behind the plate for the first time in a week after being hindered by right heel soreness. His mobility got tested very early, when he hustled out a double in the top of the first.

“It was a good day,” Vogt said. “It felt very good. I had to work a little bit behind the plate too.”

NOTEWORTHY: Ryon Healy smoked a two-run homer deep on the grass in left-center at Goodyear Ballpark, the most impressive blast of the three home runs the A’s hit in a 6-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians. It was the third spring homer for Healy, who leads the A’s with 12 RBI.

Franklin Barreto and Rosales also went deep.

CAMP BATTLE: Andrew Triggs started on the hill for Oakland and labored through a three-run first that included lots of hard contact. He steadied himself over the next two innings but got touched for three more runs in the fourth and was done after 3 2/3 innings, giving up six runs on five hits and two walks.

“Obviously I wasn’t happy with the results,” Triggs said. “Once we settled, the fastball command was better. … You work yourself into lousy counts, you can’t expect to have a whole lot of success. My goal coming in was to get to the fifth and I didn’t do that, so that’s what I was frustrated about.”

On the bright side, Triggs faced the dangerous Edwin Encarnacion twice and struck him out both times. The A’s made a big-time run at Encarnacion in the winter but lost out to Cleveland for the slugging first baseman.

Triggs, trying to win a rotation spot, hadn’t given up more than one earned run in any of his previous three outings.

FAMILIAR FACE: Former A’s reliever Dan Otero threw a scoreless inning against his old team. It was Otero’s first time facing Vogt since he joined the Indians’ bullpen last season. He coaxed a pop out.

“We were smiling, texting back and forth last night saying ‘I hope we get it out of the way during spring training,’” Vogt said. “He’s one of my best friends in all of baseball.”

ODDS AND ENDS: Lefty Ross Detwiler, who got knocked around in his previous outing, rebounded with two scoreless innings and three strikeouts. … Jharel Cotton threw in a Triple-A game Wednesday as the A’s were off. He went four-plus innings and allowed a run, getting his pitch count up over 70.

A's option RHP Hahn to Triple-A; LHP Detwiler opts out of deal

A's option RHP Hahn to Triple-A; LHP Detwiler opts out of deal

MESA, Ariz. —The A's optioned starter Jesse Hahn to Triple-Nashville on Sunday and announced that lefty Ross Detwiler has opted out of his minor league contract to become a free agent.

Hahn’s demotion brings Oakland's rotation into focus, with Andrew Triggs and Raul Alcantara lined up as the fourth and fifth starters, respectively, behind Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton. Sonny Gray will begin the season on the disabled list.

Hahn got off to a strong start this spring but struggled mightily in his last two starts, giving up 12 earned runs combined. It’s the second spring in a row that he’s entered camp looking to lock down a rotation spot before getting sent down, but the right-hander believes he’s better equipped to handle this setback.

“It’s disappointing for sure, because I set a goal this spring and that was to make the rotation,” Hahn said. “I didn’t do that, but I can’t get down on myself. I have to stay positive. I think I did a lot of positive things this spring. … I’m not going to let this one get me down. I’ve been through that situation last year. I learned from it. So I’m not going to make the same mistakes that I did last year.”

Gray’s injury, a strained lat muscle that’s expected to sideline him most of April, left two spots at the back of the rotation. The A’s are turning to right-handers Triggs and Alcantara, who have combined for just 11 big league starts between them.

Certainly with Triggs, this scenario had been developing for a while. Front office officials had talked him up since the beginning of the offseason as a rotation possibility. He's posted a 5.06 ERA in five exhibitions (three starts), but he looked very sharp in his last outing Wednesday against the White Sox.

Alcantara is out of minor league options, and the A’s wanted to keep him whether it was in a starting or relief role. His ERA is 4.50 over six appearances (three starts), but like Triggs, his most recent start was his most effective.

“Both of these guys will get an opportunity they haven’t had before,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.

Sunday’s developments could have a trickle-down effect with other parts of the roster. The A’s are in a better position now to keep five outfielders if they want and go with the standard seven relievers. Going with eight relievers and four outfielders seemed more likely when Alcantara was still a bullpen consideration just to keep him from hitting the waiver wire.

Non-roster invitees Alejandro De Aza and Jaff Decker, who is slated to return Monday from an oblique injury, are the primary candidates to be the fifth outfielder, although Chris Parmelee, another non-roster player, has quietly had a good spring.

The seventh bullpen spot could go to Daniel Coulombe if the A’s deem it important to have a second lefty, or they could go with impressive right-handed prospect Frankie Montas, who would be more of a multi-inning reliever asked to get both lefties and righties out. Of course, they could still opt for an eight-man ‘pen if they want a second lefty and think it’s necessary to keep Montas as a length guy.

Detwiler was on the fringe of the rotation competition and also could have been a bullpen consideration. But he posted an 11.88 ERA over eight appearances. The lefty is now free to sign with any club, though Melvin didn’t rule out the chance of Detwiler returning at some point.

**

Khris Davis, out recently with right quad soreness, will play in a minor league game Sunday along with Decker. If Davis comes out of it well, Melvin said he will DH on Monday.

In another injury update, third baseman Trevor Plouffe is doing OK after tweaking an abductor muscle in his groin. Melvin is aiming to get him in one more game before the A’s fly north Wednesday, and then Plouffe will have the Bay Bridge Series to make sure he’s ready.

 

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

Lazaro Armenteros, the A’s 17-year-old stud outfield prospect better known as “Lazarito,” is believed to have become the youngest player in franchise history to appear in a Cactus League game.

Armenteros entered at the DH spot in the eighth against the Dodgers and went 0-for-2, flying out to right-center and popping up to shallow center. With the A’s short on position players, Armenteros was brought over from minor league camp and got a little exposure to the big league environment.

“He’s quite athletic, and I know they love him over there” at minor league camp, A's manager Bob Melvin recently said.

Armenteros also got a chance to mingle with Dodger outfielder (and fellow Cuban) Yasiel Puig before the game.

“Over there (in Cuba) you kind of play the game because you like it and you enjoy it,” Armenteros recently said through interpreter Juan Dorado. “Here, it’s more like a job. There’s more preparation.”

Armenteros will stay in Arizona through extended spring training and then head to play in the Dominican Summer League.