MESA, Ariz. – Coco Crisp is willing to switch to left field if the A’s think it’s best.
He also made it clear to reporters Wednesday that he voiced his opposing thoughts on the subject to team officials.
“I’ve gone over my cons about it with them in our conversations,” Crisp said. “But they have their mind set on me playing left field. It is what it is. I would rather play center, but I take things in stride for the most part.”
Manager Bob Melvin announced Wednesday morning that Crisp would shift from center to left field in an effort to keep healthier, the thought being that there is lesser risk of crashing into the wall than in center. Crisp suffered a strained neck last season that hindered him much of the season. Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry will likely platoon in center under the new plan.
Crisp, 35, said he does not buy into the theory that playing left will help him avoid injury.
“I feel like I’m going to go out and play the same way I always have, so it doesn’t really matter if I play center or left or anywhere else” he said. “… I tried to play it safe last year and hated doing that. I had to try to think in the bigger picture in not diving for some of those balls. I came back in and it felt like I was letting my teammates down.”
Crisp also suggested that learning a new position – the different trajectory on the ball and taking different angles – could possibly be an injury risk in itself.
He also addressed the idea that defensive metrics suggest he’s regressed in center, an indication that A’s officials relayed that to him as part of their rationale for having him make the switch.
“I was healthy and I started off doing well (in 2014), then the injuries came and I had a downslide (as far as the sabermetrics),” he said. “So due to that, my projections as a center fielder are gonna be down. They were down. The thought process of me moving to left is (based) a little on those projections as well. But I feel if I’m healthy and out there, I’m still one of the best center fielders in the game defensively.”
But Crisp also is making an effort to understand things from the team’s perspective.
“They go by the numbers and that’s understandable,” he said. “You have to have your system in place, and if I had a system in place, I would trust in my own system.”
Crisp told team officials that he’d rather stick with one position – either left or center – rather than bounce back and forth.
Fuld plays the outfield in an aggressive style similar to Crisp’s and says it can be tough to dial things back in an effort to stay healthy.
“It seems like for a lot of us it’s either an ‘on’ or an ‘off’ button and it’s tough to be anywhere in between,” Fuld said. “I know when I see a ball hit I sort of get tunnel vision. It’s us and the ball and not a whole lot else we think about.”
The A’s experimented briefly with Crisp in left field in 2012 because they wanted Yoenis Cespedes in center where he was comfortable, but ultimately decided their best defense had Crisp in center and Cespedes in left. Crisp said he thinks this year’s roster could be better suited for him in left than the 2012 club was.
“I’m not taking away nothing from (Cespedes) … but I think Gent and Fuld are better center fielders than Cespy.”
Crisp is signed through 2016 and owed $22 million over that time, with a $13 million vesting option for 2017.