Oakland boasts five proven outfielders, all of whom have been everyday players at one point in their careers. But Melvin can't sprinkle each one into the lineup on a daily basis, particularly three -- David DeJesus, Ryan Sweeney and Conor Jackson -- who are fighting for time in right field.
Melvin has deemed right field his most difficult decision. With Jackson getting the start on Saturday, each of the trio has played there at least once under Melvin, a nod to his determination to feel out a staff he's still getting to know.
"I told them at the beginning, give me these four days to figure out the personnel, and once we get back home to Oakland, when they leave the ballpark that night, they're going to know if they're playing or not," he said.
That wasn't always the case before Melvin's arrival, as the lineup was routinely posted rather late in the day, often without any player knowing beforehand whether he was starting. Melvin said DeJesus will start on Sunday, but the position will likely continue to be a revolving door.
"Right now, Josh [Willingham] is important in the four-spot, and Coco [Crisp] is so important in the one-spot, that it seems like it's right field between three guys that all deserve playing time," he said. "It's really difficult. DeJesus is used to being a regular, Conor Jackson is used to being a regular, and Sweeney has got our highest on-base percentage.
"There's no perfect formula. Someone's going to be left out, and I feel bad about that. I wish we could play a rover out there and have four guys in the outfield, but that's not the case."
The decision would be slightly easier, he noted, if the club didn't have an everyday designated hitter in Hideki Matsui, as an outfield candidate could fill that slot every now and then. But, "it's more important to have [Masui] in the lineup right now," he said.