TOKYO -- Yoenis Cespedes is on a mission to silence the doubters who have been weary of his ability to hit Major League pitching.
The A's outfielder didn't put on the most impressive Cactus League performance, furthering speculation about his potential, but he needed just one big league game -- against Felix Hernandez on an international stage, no less -- to collect his first hit in the Majors.
It was a ringing double to center field -- "That was one of the prettiest swings I've seen him take," A's shortstop Cliff Pennington said -- and it followed two less-than-memorable at-bats. Cespedes swung through Hernandez's breaking ball for a strikeout in his first at-bat and was hit by a pitch his second go-around at the plate.
Cespedes said Thursday he felt a dose of pressure coming into his Major League debut, most of which was relieved following the hit.
"I felt so excited after getting the first hit," he said through translator Ariel Prieto. "After I got the hit, I knew the dream I've had in mind has come true."
The center fielder started Thursday's Opening Series finale one spot higher in the order at No. 6, a move that coincided with Melvin's desire to pack as many right-handers into the lineup against Seattle lefty Jason Vargas.
"Each and every at-bat, we had a better feeling of, 'He might run into one here pretty quick,'" manager Bob Melvin said. "I think he's more comfortable each and every day he's here, and I'm happy with his progress to this point."
A's first-base job remains up for grabs
TOKYO -- The A's will have already completed two regular-season games by the time they arrive back in Oakland on Thursday around 5 p.m. PT, but they'll still be without an everyday first baseman.
Manager Bob Melvin said Thursday from the Tokyo Dome that the position is still a three-man race between Brandon Allen, Kila Ka'aihue and Daric Barton. Allen started Wednesday's contest, while Ka'aihue got the nod against lefty Jason Vargas on Thursday, with Barton back in Arizona racking up more innings as he works back from shoulder surgery.
"We're still kind of a work in progress here," Melvin said. "One, we're trying to create more of a team type of concept and get everyone involved. I still think Kila's at-bats against left-handers were a bit better. I could have gone either way with it. I think, certainly, Brandon could have handled it, but I kind of envisioned this, anyway."
The A's are set to play four more exhibition games -- one against Triple-A Sacramento and three vs. San Francisco -- before restarting the regular season on April 6, giving Melvin about one more week to evaluate the candidates. Both Ka'aihue and Allen are out of options, making the decision even more difficult.
Thus, Melvin said he really has no timetable in mind on settling the race, which could potentially not see an end until the last possible minute.
"I don't know," he said. "We have to make some decisions here, especially if we feel like Daric is ready to play in regular-season games."
Since the A's won't need a fifth starter until April 16, they could potentially carry two first basemen to start the season. In response to that notion, Melvin said "anything's possible."