MESA, Ariz. -- Chad Pinder was the A’s regular irregular last year, spreading his 110 games played across every position other than pitcher and catcher and turning in an above-average contribution at the plate. But he knows he can do more and can be more to this A’s team, and
MESA, Ariz. -- Chad Pinder was the A’s regular irregular last year, spreading his 110 games played across every position other than pitcher and catcher and turning in an above-average contribution at the plate. But he knows he can do more and can be more to this A’s team, and so far this spring he is showing that.
Pinder has been crushing it in the Cactus League, with a 1.096 OPS through 29 at-bats, entering Tuesday. And while the stats don’t matter, the affirmation of the slight approach changes Pinder has applied in camp does.
“My goal this spring has been to simplify my swing in a way that I can replicate it every single time,” Pinder said. “I didn’t add anything. I actually took something away in my swing. That’s the fascinating part about hitting. Sometimes less is more.”
Pinder, who compiled a .258/.332/.436 slash last season, made a small mechanical tweak to shorten his swing, in an effort to improve his consistency and, perhaps, become a lineup fixture. The A’s have already been impressed with Pinder’s quick adaptation to the outfield -- a transition he took on in 2017 after being drafted as a shortstop out of Virgnia Tech in '13. The offensive adjustment could add to his allure.
“Chad Pinder’s come a ways here for us,” A's manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve always liked him. The transition he made to the outfield is as seamless as anybody I’ve seen for a guy who has basically been an infielder most of his career. He is that patch guy for us that can play anywhere. We get a lot of Statcast info on his jumps, and it’s as good as anybody we have. He’s got a great throwing arm, and his at-bats have been consistent. At some point in time, this guy is going to force his way into being an everyday player.”
For now, the plan is for Pinder, who turns 27 later this month, to log the majority of his starts against left-handed pitching, while spelling players at multiple positions. And while Pinder obviously has eyes on increasing his playing time, he takes no issue with bouncing around various spots.
“I love it, I truly do,” Pinder said. “People ask me that all the time, and I give them the same answer every time. All I care about is being out there. Us winning and being a part of winning. I want to be out there high-fiving. That’s how it is, man. I’ll play anywhere, I don’t care. I just want to be out there.”
That said, when reminded that he didn’t log any innings behind the plate last year, despite catching a bit in his amateur career, Pinder said he’s not especially eager to try to corral some of the A’s pitching staff’s sickest stuff.
“Catcher’s not foreign to me,” Pinder said, “but it might feel foreign if I had to try to catch Blake Treinen or Lou Trivino.”
You likely won’t see Pinder behind the plate this year, but you will see him just about everywhere else. And if his swing adjustment continues to yield the kind of results he’s having in Cactus League play, you’re going to see quite a bit of him.
“I was at times very happy with my performances and the production that I had last year, but obviously the baseball player and competitor in me wants to be better,” Pinder said. “I think people that understand their swing, their mechanics, what they’re trying to do at the plate, over the course of 162 games, are the guys that are putting up the numbers. They’re putting themselves in position to hit every single day. That’s what I want to do.”
The A’s play the Cubs on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. PT in their last Cactus League contest before heading to Japan for a two-game series against the Mariners. The A’s have not announced a starter.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.