One of the surprises at the Fanfest blog media availability was Athletics assistant general manager David Forst mentioning that Ike Davis was interested in expanding his versatility to playing in the outfield in a pinch.
Davis himself mentioned that he had played in the outfield at Arizona State (62 games, mostly at right field in his sophomore season) and with the 2009 USA Baseball World Cup team. Davis freely admits he is a lot better at first base, but there is nothing wrong with a little more versatility if needed in the late game.
The outfield is deep generally, but it is a little shallow against right-handed pitching. Here is the current depth on the 40-man roster, oriented to hitting against right-handed pitching, and we will go from there to figure out where Ike Davis could fit into the outfield.
|Stephen Vogt||Ike Davis||Sam Fuld||Coco Crisp||Josh Reddick|
|Josh Phegley*||Stephen Vogt||Ben Zobrist||Sam Fuld||Ben Zobrist|
|Billy Butler*||Stephen Vogt||Craig Gentry*||Sam Fuld|
|Mark Canha*||Craig Gentry*||Billy Burns*||Stephen Vogt|
|Nate Freiman*||Mark Canha*||Craig Gentry*|
|Billy Burns*||Billy Burns*|
|*Wrong platoon side|
An outfielder returns to the disabled list and Stephen Vogt can't replace him
Josh Redidck missed 42 games last season, most of them on a pair of trips to the disabled list for injuring his right knee, and 41 games in 2013 dealing with his right wrist. Even if Reddick does not land himself on the disabled list, he may have an occasional ailment that keeps him out for a game.
Sam Fuld suffered a concussion with the Minnesota Twins last season (which he wrote about at Gabe Kapler's blog), causing him to miss 32 games. Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry's injury histories are each longer than the line for clubhouse tours at A's Fanfest. Stephen Vogt's foot issue last season limited his mobility to first base.
So maybe an outfielder will miss some time next year to injury. It happens. Against right-handed pitching, the primary concerns will be losing Reddick, Crisp, or Fuld. The current backup plan is most likely moving Ben Zobrist to left field, putting Eric Sogard at second base, and moving Sam Fuld over to the vacated spot.
Additionally came news from the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser that Vogt may only catch bullpens during spring training:
Melvin says Vogt, coming off foot surgery, might not catch in spring games initially but will be catching bullpen sessions. #Athletics— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) February 8, 2015
So in case Stephen Vogt can't catch and can't run in the outfield, and one of the regular outfielders against righties is also injured, Ike Davis could be a choice to head into the outfield, with Stephen Vogt at first base and Josh Phegley (or another catcher to be named later) behind the plate.
Is that better than just moving Zobrist to left and having Sogard play second? Maybe not, but it's a nice choice to have. And who knows? Davis might be better than Vogt in the outfield.