Though Laureano has been the primary center fielder for the A’s this season, he volunteered to switch positions and move to right to accommodate Marte, who had been playing mostly center field for the Marlins this season and joined the club on Thursday at Angel Stadium for the start of a four-game series against the Angels.
“Ramón actually came to me and said, ‘Play this guy in center field.’ So that wasn’t an issue there,” Melvin said. “Everybody is just happy to have him and we want to make him as comfortable as he can be.”
You really can’t go wrong with either player in center. Laureano has turned into one of the most exciting players at the position, with his propensity to make spectacular catches and possessing arguably the strongest arm in baseball. Meanwhile, Marte is a former Gold Glove Award winner in center who entered Thursday with five Outs Above Average recorded in center field, per Statcast.
What the move to right does for Laureano, who has dealt with a couple of different injuries this season, is allow him less wear and tear on his legs, while also potentially affording him more chances for flashy defensive assists.
“You get more opportunities to throw in right field, it seems, and Ramón is one of the top throwers in the league,” Melvin said. “The first time we moved him to right was because we were trying to take a little bit of his workload off because he’s a guy that goes harder than everyone else. I’ve always thought right field was a good idea for him, so it’s a pretty seamless move.”
Marte was in Thursday’s starting lineup, playing center and batting second in the order. Entering his A's debut with 22 stolen bases and a career-high .859 OPS, he provides another dimension that the A’s have lacked this year: speed. Though Oakland has not been known as a running team in recent years, Melvin said Marte will be allowed to continue his aggressive base running to help provide a spark to an offense that got off to a slow start coming back from the All-Star break.
“You look at his run numbers and they’re terrific,” Melvin said. “He’s one of the better stolen base guys in either league. We’re not going to take any of that from him. That just adds to what we can do and puts a little pressure on the pitchers. A lot of good things can happen because of what he does on the bases.”