Young, Lowrie expected to give A's versatility

PHOENIX -- Chris Young played the field in 851 games during his seven-year tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In all 851, he played center field.

Jed Lowrie may not be in exactly the same boat. He played all over the infield during his time with Boston from 2008-11. But he spent all of last season at shortstop for the Houston Astros.

So, if either of them felt out of sorts on Thursday -- when Lowrie played third base and Young played left field during a 7-3 win over the Mariners -- that's more than understandable.

Young couldn't recall ever making a play in left field at any level -- until Thursday, of course, when he saw three fly balls, making solid plays despite a nasty sun at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

"When you've never been out there, you kind of feel naked," Young said. "You don't know if you're in the right place, and you feel like you're off line. I'm sure if I looked at a tape of it, it would look fine."

Where Young fits into a crowded Oakland outfield is still unknown. Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes and Coco Crisp all would appear to have starting roles locked up, leaving Young as a designated hitter and spot starter in the outfield.

"The only way you're going to get better is through games," said Young, who came to Oakland in a three-way trade last October. "That's the only preparation that I've been doing. Wherever I'm put out there, I just try to learn as I go. I'm sure I'll make mistakes at some point, but that's the only way I'm going to figure it out."

Lowrie figures to see time all over the infield during the season, simply to help manager Bob Melvin create the best matchups offensively.

Lowrie, however, still feels like a shortstop, no matter where he is on the diamond.

"I'm going to take the majority of my ground balls at shortstop, just because I think you can get more work in at shortstop, more reactions, there's just more going on at shortstop," said Lowrie, who made plays on a couple of popups and a first-inning grounder and contributed a two-run homer. "Working there every day keeps me on top of my shortstop game. I've played there more than anyplace else in my career, so shortstop is where I'm most comfortable.

Melvin refused to refer to Young and Lowrie as "fill-ins" because of how much experience they bring to the table, and the fact that either or both of them could end up playing every day.

"It enables us to combat injuries," Melvin said, specifically addressing the outfield situation. "Yoenis was out for significant time last year. So was Coco. The formula -- I'm not sure yet. Once the season starts, and everybody's healthy [I'll know], but it's a good problem to have."

Melvin acknowledged that the all-purpose roles he will be asking Young and Lowrie to play are a much easier sell coming off a division title.

"That's what I've heard from them," Melvin said. "They just want to come in and keep things going in the direction that we're going and help the team win. There's definitely some pride involved when you have to go out there and play a different position."

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.