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Inbox: Will Pinder become Zobrist-like player?

Beat reporter Jane Lee answers A's fans questions
MLB.com @JaneMLB

It seems as though Chad Pinder could develop into another Ben Zobrist. Agree or not?
-- James H., Lewes, Del.

Pinder has all the skills necessary to do so, and he's already well on his way, adjusting to play in the outfield just fine when he's not in the infield. He's really shaping up to be an above-average defender just about anywhere on the diamond, and I suspect he'll see some additional playing time in center field in the coming weeks, now that Rajai Davis has been traded to Boston.

It seems as though Chad Pinder could develop into another Ben Zobrist. Agree or not?
-- James H., Lewes, Del.

Pinder has all the skills necessary to do so, and he's already well on his way, adjusting to play in the outfield just fine when he's not in the infield. He's really shaping up to be an above-average defender just about anywhere on the diamond, and I suspect he'll see some additional playing time in center field in the coming weeks, now that Rajai Davis has been traded to Boston.

Can we expect to see Chris Bassitt pitch anytime in the big leagues this season?
-- Erik C., Antioch, Calif.

Bassitt is likely a candidate to join the A's as a September callup. But they aren't rushing his return to the big league stage, so as to afford him the chance to find some consistency following a grueling Tommy John rehab process. Having him come up in September would surely be quite the reward for Bassitt, who will likely return to a starting role during Spring Training. At that point, everyone involved will feel much more comfortable building up his innings again.

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Is there any reason to believe that the best young players to emerge from the current core as bona fide Major Leaguers will get long-term contracts so the A's can build a contender?
-- Ken L., Unionville, Conn.

Building a contender, at least from the A's perspective, starts with building a new stadium, which would generate the kind of revenue that would allow the organization to consummate such long-term contracts.

This presents something of a dilemma: Should the A's outline a five-year construction plan this year -- largely expected -- and open a new stadium in 2023, all of these young players who are emerging as a formidable core will be up for free agency around that time. The A's, of course, have a track record of dealing players before they hit the open market, so it will be interesting to see how they traverse this situation as it unfolds in the coming years.

What's the plan with Frankie Montas? Is he a starter or a reliever?
-- Moises D., Las Vegas

The A's would ideally like to have Montas start, which is why they began increasing his workload when he was last optioned to Triple-A. He made five starts with the Sounds, getting up to four innings in each of them, before suffering an oblique injury that has him shelved.

Oakland wanted to limit Montas' innings this season, which is why it was conservative with him in Spring Training and kept him in a relief role -- a decision that spurred his inclusion on the Opening Day roster, after he thrived in the job. But my guess is he'll be stretched out as a starter next spring, giving the A's -- whose starting depth is rather thin -- another rotation option.

When will we see Joey Wendle (who looks like the next Mark Ellis) up permanently with the big league club?
-- Brian K., Antelope, Calif.

The next player to supplant Jed Lowrie as the team's everyday second baseman probably won't be the one you named. That would be Franklin Barreto, the A's top position prospect. Now, Wendle could find his way back to Oakland with rosters expanding Friday, serving in a backup infield role. He proved he could hold his own against Major League pitching last September, and he's continued to post solid numbers with Nashville.

Wendle acts as excellent depth for the A's moving forward, but an everyday job isn't in the cards for him at the moment -- at least not in Oakland, where Pinder will also be roaming around the infield (and outfield) for years to come.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

Oakland Athletics