Cespedes adjusting to life in Major Leagues
OF hitless in three at-bats against Brewers in Cactus League
PHOENIX -- Yoenis Cespedes stared down a good share of breaking balls without moving his bat an inch on Tuesday, but it's too early to verify the theory he can't hit them.
The Cuban outfielder, adjusting to several facets of his new life as ballplayer in the United States, is simply doing homework for now -- learning pitchers he's never before faced or even scouted, familiarizing himself with their repertoire and mechanics.
"The more he knows, the more confident he will be," manager Bob Melvin said. "He's got a plan every time he goes up there."
Cespedes' 0-for-3 day against the Brewers included two strikeouts, and he hasn't picked up a hit since his Saturday debut, when he homered and singled. But after completing his sixth inning in center field on Tuesday, Cespedes confidently told reporters through translator Ariel Prieto that he feels comfortable and is learning to make adjustments.
While there's pressure for Cespedes to showcase his skills and how they translate to the big leagues, A's general manager Billy Beane says there's no rush to determine his readiness for Opening Day.
"He'll have good days and bad days," Beane said this week. "I don't know if there is any benefit in giving a daily evaluation. He's got a lot of physical talent, and it's fun watching him go up there each at-bat as we learn more about him."
On Tuesday, Cespedes found himself in the three-hole for the second time in as many starts, batting ahead of new mentor and friend Manny Ramirez. He first went down on strikes swinging, then looking, and ended his day at the plate with a sharp groundout to shortstop.
Cespedes noted he feels good physically and is ready to play a full nine innings, though Melvin is easing him into games, just as he does with any player on his club. The A's skipper liked what he saw of his new outfielder in center field and will soon have to determine whether it's best to keep him there and move incumbent Coco Crisp to left.
Melvin has yet to show any hint, though, on when that decision will be made, as the organization hasn't even committed an Opening Day roster spot to Cespedes.
"When it comes to the outfield, Bob will decide who's the best, what the best decision for each guy is and who are the best three at the positions," Beane said. "That's going to come down to putting the best defenders in the right place. It's not going to revolve around one person."
The A's are off Wednesday, and Melvin did not share his lineup for Thursday's meeting on the road with the Rangers. By then, the team will have just one week to go before its charter departs for Japan, where the A's are set to open the regular season with the Mariners on March 28.
Even then, the A's will still have plenty questions about Cespedes, who won't provide all the answers for weeks, months and possibly years.
"How we think he'll handle the Major Leagues and whether or not he'll be able to handle the first game of the year or the 10th game of the year, we just don't know," Beane said. "And I don't want to set any timetables or statistical goals for him to each. We'll just have a feel. If he can handle it up here, we'll make that decision."