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A’s will give Young room to grow in left and right as the Cactus League kicks off

PHOENIX – A’s manager Bob Melvin would like nothing better than to make things easy on Chris young.

Well, that’s not going to happen. Young, one of the better center fielders in the game and a former All-Star, will be playing out of position much of this season.

He has to play left and right in addition to center, and he’ll occasionally be the designated hitter as well.

The A’s have some institutional memory when it comes to moving center fielders to the corners. Coco Crisp did it at the beginning of last season and his first forays were less than graceful.

Then two months into the season, Crisp went back to center and it was Yoenis Cespedes’ time to learn the left field tango. It took a while for him to click, too.

“The thing I remember,’’ Melvin said, “is that by the end of the year he really had it down.’’

Melvin is counting on the same from Young, including the learning curve at the beginning.

“He’s done the drills, but it’s tough to tell anything from that,’’ Melvin said. “It’s all about playing in the games.’’

Young gets a bit of a break today. He’ll play center field against the Brewers in Maryvale. On Sunday, however, he’s down to play right field against the Angels in Tempe.

And if he looks a little rough out there, Melvin will want him to know that he’s not the first one to get out of the gate slowly when making the conversion.

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Melvin has mid-March target date for A’s to settle on second base/shortstop combination

Shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima

PHOENIX – The A’s could be settled on a starting shortstop/second base combination by mid-March.

Manager Bob Melvin said Saturday that in an ideal world, the congestion up the middle would be cleared out with about two weeks left in the A’s spring training season.

That would give presumed shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima a fortnight in which to create a comfort zone with whichever of the five second base candidates wins the job.

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Norberto mum about any link to probe of Biogenesis

PHOENIX – His name came up Tuesday in connection with the expanding investigation into Miami-based Biogenesis and its boss, Tony Bosch, but A’s pitcher Jordan Norberto had nothing to say about the matter Wednesday morning.

Norberto said he didn’t want to talk about the situation one way or another and that he was focused on baseball.

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Rain cuts short A’s plans for a full Wednesday workout

PHOENIX – Baseball teams like training in Arizona in the spring because it generally doesn’t rain much in the desert.

When it does, however, teams don’t have much protection against having the skies open up.

So it is Wednesday. The temperature is down 20 degrees from Tuesday, the fields are soaked and the winds are blowing cool. After holding players in the clubhouse for about an hour, the A’s gave up on hopes of having a full workout and dismissed all but a handful of pitchers and catchers.

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A’s Balfour back and throwing, just as promised

PHOENIX – Grant Balfour dispelled any suggestion that he might have been just posturing about his desire for a quick comeback when he took a ball and threw for about 10 minutes during A’s workouts at Oakland’s Papago Park facility Tuesday morning.

It was just last Thursday when the A’s closer underwent arthroscopic surgery on the meniscus in his right knee.

Then at a time when most would still be bedridden, he was back on his feet within 24 hours and throwing within five days.

He told the trainers that he felt fine after the throwing session – he was playing catch with coach Rich Rodriguez – and decided to prove it by heading indoors for a couple of hours of physical therapy.

It seems that part of the issue with his comeback from a surgery that is supposed to sideline Balfour from four-to-six weeks will be holding him back.

Balfour, who has a way to go yet before getting on a mound, has set a personal goal of being ready to pitch at or before the four-week mark, which would still leave him a couple of weeks to prep for the regular season.