SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The intrigue is over. Yoenis Cespedes will make his debut for the A's on Saturday in a Cactus League game against the Reds at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, manager Bob Melvin said on Friday. Cespedes will bat second and play center field.

Fans can catch Cespedes' debut on MLB.TV at 12:05 p.m. PT.

"Am I looking forward to seeing him out there? Absolutely," Melvin said after the A's beat the Rockies, 6-4, on Friday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. "I think everybody is, even his teammates. It was a wait to even see him [in camp]. Then he gets there and it's all eyes on batting practice. Then it was Papago. We're looking forward to see him out there and being part of the team."

The decision was made after Cespedes played in his third consecutive simulated game at Papago Park in Phoenix earlier on Friday. In one of the most highly attended simulated games, the Cuban-born player went 1-for-4 with an infield single and a strikeout, and played center.

The entire A's hierarchy was there, from owner Lew Wolff and general manager Billy Beane on down to Melvin, who was present for a few innings before catching the bus to nearby Scottsdale. Beane had said afterward that a green light from the training staff was the only impediment to Cespedes playing. That green light obviously was given.

Cespedes is evidently game ready. In the previous two simulated games, he hit two homers -- one in each game -- and went 3-for-6 on Thursday. How much he will play on Saturday is still to be determined.

"It depends on the pace of the game, how he does in the outfield, what he does in his two or three at-bats," Melvin said. "So it's more of feel type of thing."

Melvin said earlier this week that he's not concerned about the outfielder's physical condition, but is concerned that he is not in baseball shape. Cespedes has played in only eight games in the Dominican Republic since he defected from Cuba last year. Melvin confirmed that Manny Ramirez will return from a sore back to be the designated hitter on Saturday and that Seth Smith will play left field. Smith missed Friday's game with a sore back.

The A's signed Cespedes this past month to a four-year, $36 million contract, their highest impact acquisition of the offseason.

With opener in sights, McCarthy zipping along

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A's right-hander Brandon McCarthy threw 60 pitches and almost finished the fifth inning in the A's 6-4 victory over the Rockies on Friday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. If that seems like a lot for only a second spring start, it is.

But McCarthy, Oakland's No. 1 starter, is getting ready for the season opener against the Mariners on March 28 at the Tokyo Dome. So he's on a hurry-up Spring Training schedule.

"It's a little bit of an accelerated program because of where we're going," McCarthy said. "I only have two more starts before that so I have to be game ready. I threw a little extra coming into the season. So that's just showing up in games now where I'll be a little bit ahead innings-wise, but pitch count-wise it was only 15 more than the last time."

McCarthy allowed two runs on four hits with three strikeouts and no walks over 4 2/3 innings.

He was 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA in 25 starts for the A's last season, earning him the top spot in the rotation. Bartolo Colon, who made a comeback last year with the Yankees after missing 2010 because of right elbow problems, is slated to start on March 29 in Japan.

"He's right on pace," A's manager Bob Melvin said of McCarthy. "He's right where we need him to be."

Catcher Powell released by A's

PHOENIX -- The A's released veteran catcher Landon Powell on Friday, ostensibly to give him time to sign with another team, Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. Powell was invited to spring camp, but was not on the A's 40-man roster.

"A guy like Landon, you want to make a decision earlier rather than later so he has a chance to catch on," Melvin said. "Certainly that's not the end all be all reason for it, but it certainly played into it. He's been here a while. We respect him. Therefore, we did it early, so hopefully he can catch on with another team."

Powell had been the backup to starting catcher Kurt Suzuki for the past three seasons. Anthony Recker, who played 99 games for Triple-A Sacramento last season, is now pegged as Suzuki's backup. Recker batted .287 with 16 homers and 48 RBIs last year for Sacramento. At 28, he's spent practically his entire career since 2005 in the Minor Leagues, save for five games last season with the A's.

Powell was 2-for-6 in three Cactus League games this spring. Now 29, he played in 123 games in the past three seasons, batting .207 with 10 homers and 45 RBIs.