OAKLAND -- When the A's entered the season, they thought a deep group of talented outfielders would be one of the strengths of the team. But because of injuries and slumps, that's yet to come to fruition.
The production of the outfield is one of the bigger reasons for the A's recent struggles, which includes losses in eight of their past 10 games.
Each of their top four outfielders -- Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick and Chris Young -- has spent time on the disabled list. Reddick (wrist) and Young (quadriceps) remain sidelined, and Crisp (hamstring) returned Wednesday. Seth Smith has remained healthy all season, but he was supposed to be a backup until all the injuries.
Since starting the year 12-4 -- which was the best record in the American League at that point -- the A's have gone 8-18.
"We're not playing well, and we haven't for a period of time," manager Bob Melvin said. "You have to try to power through this thing and win some games, and then you get your guys back and you get some confidence and you get on a roll."
The A's were supposed to have an outfield of five productive players, but even when healthy, guys have struggled.
Cespedes, who spent time in April on the D.L. with a hand injury, has a team-leading seven home runs but is batting just .204 with 19 RBIs. Reddick (.152, one home run, 14 RBIs) was lost at the plate before going down with a wrist injury that still could require surgery. Young, who could be activated Friday, is batting .172 with four homers and 15 RBIs.
Since April 19, when the 8-18 skid began with an 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida, those three have missed a combined 34 games and have hit .183 with six homers and 25 RBI.
Crisp (.275, five home runs, 13 RBIs, eight stolen bases) has produced when he has been available, and the A's hope the return of his speed at the top of the order provides a spark.
"We play a little differently when he's not in," Melvin said of Crisp. "When Coco's back, we always feel like we have that part at the top of the lineup. He's not only an impact guy for us. He gets clutch hits for us. He really is kind of the guy that starts the engine."
But even Crisp has struggled during the monthlong slump. After batting .333 with 11 extra base and 16 runs scored in his first 13 games this season, he is hitting .208 with five extra base hits and eight runs scored since April 19.
The injuries in the outfield have forced the A's to test their depth. Brandon Moss, the A's starting first baseman for most of the year, has played right field in his last seven starts.
"His versatility, with the injuries we've had, enables us to continue to put an outfield out there that is very respectable," Melvin said of Moss.
The flip side is the loss of Moss' production at first base. Daric Barton and Nate Freiman, the other main options at first, have combined for a .197 average with two homers and 10 RBIs in 66 at-bats this season.
The whole offense has plummeted in May. After leading the American League in runs scored in April, the A's rank last in the league this month with a .217 average and 41 runs (2.9 per game).
The starting pitching hasn't helped with a 5.09 ERA that's the fifth-worst in baseball. It has often surrendered big innings that create early deficits that the A's have struggled to overcome.
"When you have a big inning, you put yourself in a hole and when you do it multiple times, it has a little bit of an effect on you," Melvin said. "It shouldn't. We should continue to grind through games and play for all 27 outs. But when it happens as much as it has, the confidence goes down a little bit."
Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.