ARLINGTON, Texas – Managers call it a good problem to have – too many quality players and not enough spots for them.
That doesn’t make it any easier for Bob Melvin to fill out the A’s daily lineup, particularly the right field/first base situation. Against right-handed pitchers, he has three left-handed hitters to choose from for those two spots – Brandon Moss, Daric Barton and Josh Reddick -- and there’s an argument for all of them to be in there.
[RELATED: A's lineup: Young replaces Reddick in right]
Moss has a team-leading 26 homers and has been one of the biggest sparks behind the A’s recent offensive surge. Barton is hitting .349 in 15 games since being recalled from the minors and provides a great glove at first. Reddick? He’s doubled and homered in two games since coming off the disabled list and was a Gold Glover last season.
But Reddick also has struggled most of this season after hitting 32 homers in 2012, and he understands the situation.
“You kind of expect what’s going on right now,” Reddick said before Friday’s series opener at Texas. “ It’s not the same year as last year for me offensively, so you gotta understand where Bob’s coming from. These guys have been doing great without me, and just because I’m back doesn’t mean they should switch that up.”
With the Rangers throwing lefty Derek Holland on Friday, right-handed hitters Chris Young (right field) and Nate Freiman (first base) were in the lineup, as has often been the case this year.
Moss is also making a justifiable case to start against lefties, but that might have to come at first base or DH as Melvin had high praise on Friday for Young, who is hitting .389 (7 for 18) during his current five-game hitting streak.
“He’s an everyday guy who’s playing in a role, and he’s doing really well right now,” Melvin said of Young. “He’s gonna be big for us because we face quite a few left-handers the rest of the year too. I think it’s almost an even split. He is an important piece right now.”
Asked about Moss’ status, Melvin offered: “He can play left, he can play right, he can play first. Against right-handed pitching he’s going to be in there…You’re just not sure what position. He could be DH too.”
The right-handed hitting Derek Norris is in the lineup at DH on Friday against Holland.
Oakland enters this three-game series with a 3 ½ game lead over Texas in the American League West. Winning this series – and especially sweeping -- would set the A’s up nicely to close out a second straight division title. But Melvin doesn’t want his players thinking about that.
“Every game now is the most important game of the year,” Melvin said. “Now, when we play Texas and they’re the team that’s next to you, obviously there’s a little more to it. But we try not to really look at it that way. We try to play every game like it’s the last game of the season and a game we have to win.”
The Rangers are reeling, having lost nine of their past 12 and getting swept by Pittsburgh in their last series. **
A benefit of winning lopsided games over Minnesota each of the past two days is that the A’s key late-inning relievers enter this showdown series against the Rangers sufficiently rested.
Closer Grant Balfour threw an inning Thursday but hadn’t pitched in the four days leading up to that. Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle both have not appeared in a game since Tuesday.