Pinder having fun showing off versatility

August 3rd, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO -- A's rookie made the most of his first start off the disabled list.

Playing left field for just the second time in his professional career, Pinder reached base three times in Wednesday's 6-1 victory over the Giants and made a stellar running catch to end the fifth inning.

"Boy that was a big pick-me-up," A's manager Bob Melvin said of the catch. "If that gets in the gap, now all of a sudden the game starts to get a little different, and there are certain plays defensively that create some momentum in your dugout, and that was one of them. Everyone pulls pretty hard for him because he moves around and has had to play some different positions."

At the plate, Pinder walked and scored a run in the second, singled in the third and knocked in a run with a single in the seventh. After missing more than a month with a left hamstring strain, the 25-year-old finished the day 2-for-4.

But Pinder's most notable moment of the night came in the fifth. With a runner on third, two outs and a run already in, Giants pinch-hitter hit a liner deep to left-center. Pinder raced over from left and made an over-the-shoulder catch just in front of the warning track.

"When you're playing left field, sometimes the lefties, that ball when they stay inside, the ball will come back toward you," Pinder said. "That took a little bit of a steeper angle and came off to my left side, so I had to make the adjustment over my left shoulder."

Pinder's only other appearance in left as a professional came May 24, when he started and played six innings against the Marlins. A career infielder before 2017, Pinder has taken well to the outfield this year, making a solid catch in right field in Monday's game. He also appeared in center three times during his rehab stint, something Pinder has been relishing.

"I'm just going with the flow, honestly," Pinder said. "If they say, 'Go get reads in center,' I'm going to go get reads in center. If they say, 'Go get some ground balls at third [or] first,' I'm going to do that.

"I'll probably need to add some more gloves to the collection. It's an adjustment, but it's fun. They're not positions that I haven't played before. At some point in my career, I've played them. Just getting acclimated to each field and the way things are going that day."

Melvin added, "You can say, 'OK, I'm versatile,' but you have to be able to do it well, and leave him in the game, too. We wanted him to finish the game and not have to take him out defensively. That's very important, that defensively if you're going to move around different positions, you have to play them well, or at least be average, and he has.

"There are very few people that can do what he's doing right now."