OAKLAND -– The A’s acquired Craig Gentry in the offseason to serve as an effective weapon off the bench and insurance in the outfield.
They couldn’t have known how much they’d lean on the fleet-footed Gentry so early in the season.
Gentry draws his seventh consecutive start in center field in Wednesday’s homestand finale against the Chicago White Sox, as Coco Crisp remains out with a strained neck. It’s the 19th start overall for Gentry, who entered the day hitting .293 with six stolen bases and 15 runs in 28 games.
“We felt like he could be an impact guy for us, either giving Coco some days off or as an in-game guy,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said Wednesday morning. “I’ve often said he impacts the game from the bench as well as anyone we’ve seen here the last few years.”
Indeed, Oakland dealt highly touted outfield prospect Michael Choice to Texas in December largely because of the speed and defensive skills Gentry showed in his previous five big league seasons (the A’s also received right-hander Josh Lindblom in the deal and sent infielder Chris Bostick to the Rangers along with Choice). Gentry also has shown his bunting skills on this homestand.
On Sunday and Monday, he led off the first by pushing bunts to the right side. On the first attempt, Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez made a nice play to get the out at first. Gentry beat out a single the next night against the White Sox.
As for Crisp, Melvin is hopeful of getting his starting center fielder and leadoff man back Friday in the series opener at Cleveland. Melvin said Crisp could “potentially” be available off the bench Wednesday afternoon, but probably only in an emergency. With the A’s off Thursday, two more full days of rest could have Crisp ready for Friday.
Note: Right-hander A.J. Griffin is scheduled to get the stitches out of his elbow Thursday following his Tommy John surgery April 30.