Remember that old cartoon where Bugs Bunny played every position on a baseball field? That's basically Chad Pinder.
Last season, the A's utility man spent time in left field, center field, right field, third base, shortstop, second base, and first base. Don't be surprised to see him complete the full defensive chart this year.
"My whole life, I've just considered myself a baseball player," Pinder said. "I don't really put a sticker on what position I play. Even in college, I was playing third and then jumped over to shortstop. My freshman year I spent some time in the outfield, and I grew up playing catcher. ... Whenever I get an opportunity to be out there, I try to make the most of it."
Pinder certainly made the most of his opportunity this spring. The 26-year-old hit .355 (11-for-31) with two home runs, seven doubles, and 11 RBI. Last season he slashed .258/.332/.436 with 13 homers and 27 RBI in 298 at-bats.
"He's an offensive force," A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters. "Each and every year, he's able to acclimate to what is the toughest role for position players and he handles it beautifully, especially for a younger guy who's used to playing every day in the minor leagues. To be able to do this is pretty phenomenal."
Pinder will once again play a utility role for the A's, filling in on the infield and the outfield whenever someone gets hurt or needs a day off. Now entering his third full major league season, he has become much more comfortable in that role and appears poised for the best year of his career.
"We have a very strong lineup, which is why sometimes I feel like it's a little hard for me to break in every once in a while," Pinder laughed. "But that's a good problem to have. And when you win 97 games, all you want is a part of that. You just want to be a small part of it."
Pinder has been more than a small part of the A's success and that figures to continue this year. Not only does he provide depth at every position, but his bat is a major weapon off the bench in late-game situations.
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While Pinder will move around from position to position, he should earn more playing time this season, especially if he keeps swinging the bat the way he did this spring.
Melvin probably put it best: "We continue to move him around, he continues to be productive."