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Canha, Pinder to see time in center field

Recent trade of Davis opens up opportunities
MLB.com

OAKLAND -- For most of the season, veteran Rajai Davis got the starting nod in center field against left-handed pitchers for the A's.

But with Davis traded to the Red Sox Wednesday, the A's are going to give two players -- outfielder Mark Canha and utility player Chad Pinder -- opportunities in center going forward, with Canha getting the nod Saturday against Rangers lefty Cole Hamels.

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OAKLAND -- For most of the season, veteran Rajai Davis got the starting nod in center field against left-handed pitchers for the A's.

But with Davis traded to the Red Sox Wednesday, the A's are going to give two players -- outfielder Mark Canha and utility player Chad Pinder -- opportunities in center going forward, with Canha getting the nod Saturday against Rangers lefty Cole Hamels.

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"Canha's done a little bit more, and we want to give him the first look, but Pinder will be out there at some point," manager Bob Melvin said. "And, as far as potential in-game moves go too, [Pinder] may show up via that route as well. But it was a little bit of a tough call today."

Canha has played center field with the A's seven times on the season and in eight games with Triple-A Nashville, but he hasn't played the position at any level since June 20. He hadn't previously played in center in his professional career.

Meanwhile, Pinder has only appeared in four games in center in his professional career, all coming since he began his rehab assignment for his left hamstring strain in mid-July. He's only played one inning in center with the A's, doing so Aug. 18 in an in-game switch.

Melvin believes there is "a lot more" that goes into playing in center than on the corners.

Video: OAK@LAA: Pinder makes a nice sliding grab on Trout

"Understand [that] there's more ground to cover," Melvin said. "Certainly the reads are a little easier, but now you're dealing with both gaps, and you're dealing with two different guys as opposed to one guy. And you're expected to be the quarterback."

Davis had been the A's primary option against left-handers this season, with left-handed hitting Boog Powell currently getting the starts against right-handers. But with Davis traded and outfielder Jake Smolinski still rehabbing from right shoulder surgery, the A's are willing to give Canha and Pinder some opportunities in center.

"Both of these guys don't have a lot of experience in it, but with the position we're in now, they're going to get some," Melvin said.

Alex Simon is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @alexsimon99.

Oakland Athletics, Mark Canha