OAKLAND — Chris Coghlan wears so many gloves with the A’s that he’s nearly lost track of how many he owns.
“I’ve got an outfield [glove], second [base], third [base] — actually my second base mitt just broke,” Coghlan said, correcting himself as he took inventory of his locker before Tuesday’’s 8-1 thrashing at the hands of the Seattle Mariners. “So, I’m using the same one at second and third. And then I have a first base glove.”
The 30-year-old vet, who’s already started at five different positions, is the poster boy for an organization that values versatility over everything else. Picked up in an offseason swap which sent right-hander Aaron Brooks to the Chicago Cubs, Coghlan knew he was destined to become the club’s newest Swiss Army Knife.
“When they traded for me, that’s what [general manager] David Forst told me,” Coghlan said. “And that’s what [manager] Bob Melvin told me when I got here: ‘Hey, we’re going to use you everywhere. [It’s] kind of like the Ben Zobrist role. Just do your thing.’”
With the ability to play across the infield and outfield, Coghlan would profile as the ideal BoMel player — if not for that pesky .150 average.
“He wants to get up there and hit right away,” Melvin said of Coghlan, who went 0-for-2 with a walk against the M’s. “When you get a few hits and you start feeling comfortable, now you see some pitches and wait for a good pitch. You get a little antsy when you’re struggling some.”
Just as he epitomizes the philosophy of flexibility, the sputtering Coghlan has also been a microcosm of the underwhelming offense, which ranks No.12 in the American League in runs and is second-to-last in the circuit in OPS.
“It’s been a struggle for us,” Melvin conceded after his team managed just one run on six hits. “[Hisashi] Iwakuma has been struggling some and leaving some balls up. We weren’t able to take advantage of a guy who wasn’t pitching too terribly well. We have not hit our stride offensively yet, for sure.”
Melvin is famous for his platoons and his ever-evolving lineups, but the team-wide slump is also a major reason why he’s been shuffling the batting order at such a furious rate. In the first 28 games, the skipper has already trotted out 25 different iterations.
Part of the problem is that a couple of the missing pieces aren’t on the 25-man roster — at least not yet. Cleanup hitter Danny Valencia, who’s on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, will play a final minor league rehab game on Wednesday before rejoining the team in Baltimore on Friday.
Soon, Valencia might not be the only third baseman who Melvin will need to squeeze into the offensive rotation. The highly-touted Matt Chapman was the home run leader of the spring and he hasn’t let up in the opening month of the 2016.
“He’s always had the power. He’s going to hit home runs [that’s] for sure,” Melvin said of the 23-year-old who has left the park eight times in his first 25 Double-A games. “There’s no doubt in my mind — barring any health issues — he’ll be a big leaguer at some point in time [and] probably sooner rather than later.”
Each day the offense struggles and Chapman rakes, picking up the phone and summoning the top prospect makes more and more sense.