OAKLAND — Is it possible that the A's have too much of a good thing?
Let's put it this way: at the A's annual FanFest at the Coliseum Sunday, center fielder Coco Crisp was joking about manager Bob Melvin needing to play four outfielders at the same time.
``We could have three guys and a rover,'' Crisp suggested. ``But then a fifth guy would want more playing time."
Since the end of the 2012 season, the A's have added Chris Young in a trade with the Diamondbacks. He'd played in 156 games in 2010 and 2011 before injury limited him to 101 games last season.
He joins Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick, all of whom played 120 or more games for the A's in 2012 and were basically in the lineup anytime they were healthy. So there are four men for three spots, and the odd man out figures to be the designated hitter most of the time, with Jonny Gomes no longer around.
Getting at-bats for the four men should be no problem, although fifth man Seth Smith could have a difficult time cracking the lineup. But all of the returnees say they want to be in the field, not just at the plate, and Young, a Rookie of the Year in 2004 and an All-Star in 2007 with Arizona, is one of the better defensive center fielders in the game.
``Obviously who plays where is up to the manager,'' Cespedes said, adding that it is his understanding that he will be in left field most of the time.
Reddick, who led the A's in homers and RBIs, isn't just a slugger. His throwing arm ranks with the best in baseball, and right field is where a strong arm is needed the most.
``I expect to be in right field,'' Reddick said.
So it might come down to Young vs. Crisp in center. Crisp is the incumbent and fiercely proud of playing in the field, a fact of which Melvin is not unaware. At the same time, Crisp's throwing arm is weak, and Young might be an upgrade.
For his part, Young is just learning names and faces, and said Sunday that he mostly knew Young from having met at a Call of Duty function, both men being avid gamers. So worrying about who's playing where is, while important, not a pressing concern. Not in January.
When spring training starts next month, things will be different.
"This seem like a pretty loose ball club,'' Young said. ``They know what they are doing.''
And he's not without an ace in the hole. He played under Melvin in Arizona for five years, including his All-Star season when he hit 27 homers and drove in 91 runs as the everyday center fielder. Melvin is going to want to recreate that performance, and if putting Young in center most of the time does the trick, Melvin would have no problem going in that direction.
"I'm comfortable with whatever he asks me to do,'' Young said. ``When you have so much respect for a manager, you don't sit at home and stress about things; you know you'll get your opportunity.''