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A's place emphasis on defensive flexibility

The SportsXchange

The theme of this year's Oakland A's camp is versatility and interchangeability, and it's on display everywhere.

For two men in particular, the team's plan to have several frontline players play multiple positions will not be easy. Chris Young will be hopping all over the outfield -- and he will have to learn both corner spots to do so. And Jed Lowrie, a shortstop most of his career, will be playing all of the infield spots.

Lowrie arrived in camp Saturday and said that he prefers to play one position every day, but, he added, that's the same for every player, a sentiment that manager Bob Melvin agreed with.

"I've proven I can play shortstop every day, and I think that's what I am, an everyday shortstop who can play other positions," Lowrie said. "And that's not a bad thing."

Of course, last spring, the A's said that Yoenis Cespedes would be in center field full time and that Coco Crisp would move to left field; the team wanted Cespedes, a center fielder in Cuba, to feel comfortable. By May, Cespedes was in left and Crisp was back in center.

Lowrie is considered a better defensive shortstop than the Athletics' free agent signee from Japan, Hiro Nakajima. Again, though, the team wants Nakajima to focus on one thing, and that's playing shortstop, while he's dealing with acclimating to so many other things in the United States.

Nakajima, however, has volunteered to play anywhere, and he played second base for the Japanese national team.

Meanwhile, numerous outfielders are following Brandon Moss' lead. Moss converted from the outfield to first base last year, and the is now Oakland's first baseman. Minor league outfielders Michael Taylor and Shane Peterson have been working out at first base, too, and A's designated hitter/outfielder Seth Smith said he would have interest in playing first base because he'd like to be more versatile.
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