Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin informed reporters in Mesa that Coco Crisp will play left field in 2015. Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry will platoon in center field. MLB.com's Jane Lee tweets the move is an "attempt to help keep [Crisp] healthy." The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser expands:
Melvin has spoken to Crisp about the move, which is intended to keep him healthier. Crisp had questions about it but is on board with plan.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 4, 2015
CSN's Joe Stiglich adds:
Melvin: "There's also a pride factor involved for a guy who is one of the premier center fielders." #Athletics— Joe Stiglich (@JoeStiglichCSN) March 4, 2015
Crisp had previously played left field for the A's, to his reluctance, when Yoenis Cespedes signed for the A's in 2012. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that Crisp would not have signed a contract extension in the A's that year had he known they were going to move him to left field.
Crisp seemed to lose a step in the outfield last year, with leading defensive metrics suggesting it was the worst defensive season of his career. His Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 defensive games was -24.1, and he was rated at -17 Defensive Runs Saved. Both are classified as "awful" in those statistics' scales. By contrast, Fuld and Gentry each enjoyed one of their best seasons in center field in 2014.
Coco Crisp is OK with moving to left this time
Speaking to the Sacramento Bee's Matt Kawahara, Crisp said, "You can consider something a demotion when you don't want it necessarily. But at the same time I'm OK with it." Crisp continued, "I would rather play center, I still feel like I'm good. But the way the numbers were last year with me being hurt, the feeling about it is they want to keep me as healthy as possible. I understand that." (Kawahara in three tweets)
Prior to joining the A's, Crisp played 216 games in left field for the Indians from 2002-2005, including 138 games in his final season in Cleveland.