Cespedes’ Debut, First Cuts, Other Stuff

"I can hit all the home runs you want, but I can't import any Cuban cigars."

The explosive debut of Yoenis Cespedes on Saturday (2-for-2 with a home run, 2 RBIs and a walk) made the weekend about as exciting as Spring Training baseball can possibly get. That’s not to say the impending dawn of a new season doesn’t get fans worked up, but with all the buzz being generated by the Cuban outfielder, the A’s are making national news and not for the wrong reasons for once.

It was a strange, almost surreal feeling to see the internet go crazy every time he stepped to the plate. The arrival of Cespedes has been a dose of highly concentrated Red Bull for a divided, and often times jaded fan base, that has re-energized us and gives reason to believe again. He went hitless on Sunday, but his performance on Saturday showed us more than enough to believe that he should be an impact player in the bigs. Getting lost in all that excitement was the fact that the A’s made their first cuts of the spring.

The A’s sent 12 players back to the Minors, leaving the club with 46 players in camp. Two of those players, pitcher Sean Doolittle and outfielder Jermaine Mitchell, were optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, while the rest were reassigned to Minor League camp.

Doolittle, a converted first baseman, told Jane Lee of MLB.com that he’s happy with the progress he’s made so far in switching positions. He pitched 1 1/3 innings in camp, walking one and striking out three. Mitchell did not appear in any games as he is recovering from offseason microfracture knee surgery.

The 10 players sent to Minor League camp were right-handed pitchers Edgar Gonzalez, Sonny Gray, Jim Miller and Merkin Valdez; left-handed pitcher Fabio Castro; catcher Max Stassi; and outfielders Michael Choice, Grant Green, Cedric Hunter and Jason Pridie. A’s fans anxiously await the day that top prospects Choice and Green are manning the outfield for the good guys. Maybe in 2013?

The remaining 46 players in camp include 38 players on the 40-man roster and eight non-roster invitees. The breakdown equates to 22 pitchers, five catchers, nine infielders and 10 outfielders.

As for the team itself, the A’s are now 7-3 in Spring Training after defeating the Royals 10-8 yesterday. The two clubs combined for 24 hits, with Eric Sogard providing the most crucial in the bottom of the eighth with a bases-clearing go-ahead double that lifted the A’s to victory. Sogard is now batting 10-for-27 (.370) with three doubles, two long balls, and six RBIs so far this spring. It’d be a crime if this kid doesn’t make the Opening Day roster.

In other news…

  • Good ol’ Mark Ellis talked with John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday and said he’s excited to be with a big market team like the Dodgers and is eager to see what they are capable of. The longtime Athletic, who always said he wanted to spend his entire career with Oakland, also said that the A’s are a storied franchise and he’d like to see the stadium situation get resolved as soon as possible.
  • Speaking of a new stadium, Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross wrote in the Chronicle today that two separate investment groups are interested in buying the A’s with the intent to keep the team in Oakland. I guess this takes a dump on theory that if Lew & Company can’t get to San Jose they’ll move out of state or sell to somebody else who will. The first group is from the L.A. area and is led by a financial services industry executive. The group was involved in bidding on the Dodgers, but bowed out of the process as the speculated sale price climbed to $1.5 billion. The second group is headed by an executive from a Silicon Valley company who already owns a Minor League franchise. It must be nice to an executive. Lew Wolff has long insisted that the A’s are not for sale, but many people feel that he and Josh Fisher are tiring of the battle to move the team to San Jose and may put the team up for sale. We can only hope.
  • Daric Barton was slated to make his spring debut today against the White Sox in the DH role. It looks as though he’s still about a week away from throwing, and his chances of making the Opening Day roster are slimming by the day. He’ll probably start the season in Sacramento to get the at-bats he needs. Barton, whose lack of power has been a subject of scorn and ridicule for many A’s fans, hit a home run off Sonny Gray during a simulated game Saturday. So far today, he’s 0-for-2 with a walk (of course) as the A’s lead 6-0 in the fourth. Brandon Allen had a two RBI double in the top of the third, giving him 10 RBIs so far this spring.
  • Be sure to tune in to the MLB Network at 5 PM (Pacific Time) later today as ’30 Clubs in 30 Days’ takes a look at the A’s with interviews, analysis, and projections for the upcoming season.
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