It’s time to see what the hype is really all about. Well, sort of. Today is the today that Yoenis Cespedes will make his “debut” for the A’s in a Cactus League game against the Reds. While I am looking forward to seeing what he can do today, I’m already fixated on the idea of seeing him play in games that count when the season starts. Until then, we’ll see how he fares in Spring Training games. He’s slated to bat second and play center field today.
Cespedes has impressed in workouts and simulated games so far, hitting two homers in three simulated games. It’s unknown how long he’ll play today, but manager Bob Melvin said that it’ll be determined by how Cespedes looks in his at-bats and in the outfield. If Cespedes keeps pounding the ball he should start the season on the big league roster. Billy Beane doesn’t want to put too much pressure on the guy early on, but earlier this week he told Susan Slusser that he expects Cespedes to make an impact sooner rather than later.
If Cespedes does start the season in Oakland, it’ll be interesting to see how Bob Melvin adjusts the outfield. When Coco Crisp was resigned in the offseason he was expected to play in center, with Seth Smith and Josh Reddick figured to start at the corner spots after they were acquired. Crisp doesn’t have the arm to play right, so he’ll have to slide over to left, leaving Smith, Reddick, and a group of others (Collin Cowgill, Michael Taylor, etc.) fighting for playing time. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see somebody get traded.
In other Spring Training news…
- In a move that hurts my heart a bit, the team released catcher Landon Powell yesterday. Powell had been outrighted off of the 40-man roster in January and was in camp as a non-roster player. The 29-year-old was drafted by the A’s in the first round of the 2004 draft, and hit .207 with 10 HR and 45 RBI in 123 games over three seasons (2009-11) with the team. I’ll always fondly remember Powell for his June 19th solo homer against the Giants last year to lift the A’s to a 2-1 win (and a series sweep of those bastards across the Bay) and for catching Dallas Braden’s perfect game and signing my game ticket afterward. A myriad of injuries in the minors put a dent in his promising career, but he’s a champion in my mind and I wish him much success in his future.
- Outfielder Jason Pridie has been suspended 50 games for violating the minor league drug program. Pridie reportedly tested positive for a “drug of abuse” rather than a performance-enhancing drug, and it is his second violation. He can still participate in Spring Training. Pridie hit .231 with 4 HR, 20 RBI and stole seven bases in 101 games with the Mets last year.
- Manny Ramirez has been troubled by a balky back so far in Spring Training, missing a few games and going 0-for-5 with a strikeout in the two games he has played in. He was held out of Wednesday’s game against the Dodgers, and missed the rematch on Thursday while he played in a simulated game at Papago Park. He didn’t play in yesterday’s game against the Rockies, in which the DH wasn’t used. Manny is scheduled to be back in the lineup today.
- Speaking of injuries, Daric Barton also took part in Thursday’s simulated game. Barton was shut down Monday after receiving a cortisone shot in his surgically repaired right shoulder, severely hurting his chances of being on the Opening Day roster. Barton endeared himself to stat geeks everywhere with his 4.2 WAR 2010 season, but angered a litany of A’s fans after a disastrous 2011 campaign. I haven’t lost all faith in him yet, but his chances with the A’s may be running out. In his absence, Brandon Allen looks to have the best shot at winning the starting job at first base to open the season. In five spring games he has hit .286 with eight RBI, seven coming against the Cubs last Sunday.
- Eric Sogard is having a strong spring so far, having gone 9-for-25 in seven games, leading the team with two homers. He has a decent shot of winning the third base job, especially with Josh Donaldson only hitting .190 with seven strikeouts in seven games. Wes Timmons, a 10-year minor league veteran who substitute teaches in the offseason, has an outside shot of making the team as a utility infielder, hitting .368 with 4 RBI so far this spring. If he continues to hit well, he has a slight chance of ending up as the starting third sacker when the team flies to Japan.
That’s about it for now. From here on, I plan on updating at least once every day or two, maybe even more if I can find the time (and stop being lazy).