BALTIMORE -- The A's put forward a lineup Sunday with three catchers in it for the first time this season.
Only Derek Norris was actually behind the plate. Stephen Vogt was in right field and John Jaso was serving as designated hitter.
It's something that manager Bob Melvin talked about in the hypothetical only a couple of days ago, and Sunday morning he admitted "I didn't think we'd actually do this'' so soon.
Most managers only have two catchers at their disposal -- technically the A's have four since Josh Donaldson used to be a catcher, but Melvin said "at this point we can consider him a third baseman'' — and don't like to play both at the same time in case of injury.
With three catchers in the lineup, there are more options for Melvin than there would be if the club only had two. The A's couldn't have to give up the DH, for example, if Norris was out of the game because Vogt could move from right field.
There was solid reasoning behind Melvin's move. The A's are down one left-handed bat with Josh Reddick on the disabled list, so Vogt, who was a catcher/outfielder before coming to the A's and being put strictly behind the plate, was given the shot. He played there Thursday against the Yankees.
"He did a nice job for us in New York out there,'' Melvin said. "And you know he's going to grind the at-bats. So at least to start the game he'll be out there in right field.''
Jaso has settled in as the regular DH against right-handed pitching except on days when he's catching. And he's been hot. Since April 30 he has a .333 batting average, a .413 on-base percentage and five homers. He's leading off, which is unusual for a catcher, but not so for Jaso, for whom this is the sixth time this season.
Norris is behind the plate just as it appears his offensive game might be warming up again. He was hitless in his final 11 at-bats of May, but he's 3-for-9 with a homer to start June.
Oakland did have three catchers for part of the second half of the season last year to compensate for Jaso and Norris both being injured.
He began his career in Oakland as a center fielder in 2012, but the A's came to find they clicked better with Cespedes in left and Coco Crisp in center rather than the other way around.
Still, in many ways Cespedes thinks of himself as a center fielder. He last started in center Aug 16-17 last year and in the first two weeks of May last season he played there daily with the A's in an injury crunch.
"It's more Coco and having Gentry (to play) against left-handers,'' Melvin said. "We have a right-hander (Ubaldo Jimenez) today. Ces enjoys playing center field.''
Crisp normally gets his days off when a left-hander pitches, but Melvin is trying to give his center fielder all the rest he can to help Crisp's sore neck heal.
Friday saw Crisp walk as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, eventually scoring the tying run. In the 11th inning Jaso led off with a pinch-hit double and Vogt delivered him with a pinch-hit single.
Vogt had a pinch-hit run-scoring double on Wednesday vs. the Yankees and Crisp a pinch-hit single on May 31 against the Angels.
In the last seven games, the A's have five pinch-hits, two of them doubles, a walk and four RBIs in six pinch-hit plate appearances.
For the season, the A's pinch hitters 13 walks, six more than any other American League club, and are tied for the lead in the AL in pinch-hits (15) and extra-base hits (5).