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Versatile players to fill in for Olson at 1B

@goodforball
March 23, 2019

OAKLAND -- Matt Olson's injured right hand disturbed the A's, but it didn't surprise them. A's manager Bob Melvin quickly assigned the task of replacing Olson to Jurickson Profar, who's known primarily for his middle-infield wizardry, and Mark Canha, who's accustomed to substituting at various positions.

OAKLAND -- Matt Olson's injured right hand disturbed the A's, but it didn't surprise them.

A's manager Bob Melvin quickly assigned the task of replacing Olson to Jurickson Profar, who's known primarily for his middle-infield wizardry, and Mark Canha, who's accustomed to substituting at various positions.

Melvin said Profar, Oakland's regular second baseman, likely will start at first base against right-handed pitchers. Canha will get the call mostly against lefties.

Both Profar and Canha insisted they'll feel comfortable replacing Olson, who underwent surgery Friday for removal of a hamate bone. Their confidence bodes well for the A's, who expect Olson to rejoin the lineup in early May, general manager Billy Beane said during the team's brief workout Saturday.

Melvin has resigned himself to the knowledge that Oakland's infield won't be quite the same without Olson, who won a Gold Glove, hit 29 home runs and played all 162 games last season.

"There are guys who are irreplaceable," Melvin said. "It's going to be tough. This guy's a 30-home-run, left-handed bat. He's a Gold Glover on his own and he makes everybody else better."

Fortunately for the A's, past performances indicate Profar and Canha can fill in adequately.

Profar played 43 errorless games at first base in the previous three seasons for Texas, including 24 last year.

Profar's equipment bag doesn't include a first baseman's glove. But he insisted he'll know what to do with it when he gets one.

"Things like this happen all the time," he said. "I'm ready for it. I've played there before. I'll do anything to help the team."

Canha has appeared at first base in 98 games during four Major League seasons, including 75 during his 2015 rookie campaign. Aware that he could be summoned at any time to play almost anywhere -- including third base and any of the three outfield spots -- Canha has continued to sharpen his skills at each position.

"That's kind of why I'm here," Canha said. "I treated this spring just like I do every other spring, and that's to get ready at all the positions I play."

Melvin said the switch-hitting Profar and the right-handed-batting Canha won't be used in a strict platoon.

"We'll see how it goe," Melvin said, adding that Chad Pinder or Franklin Barreto will occupy second base when Profar switches to first.

Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @goodforball.