MINNEAPOLIS -- A slumping A's offense will welcome back its biggest bat on Friday when Yoenis Cespedes is expected to rejoin the club in Kansas City after missing most of May with a strained muscle in his left hand.
In two rehab games with Triple-A Sacramento, Cespedes went 3-for-7, though manager Bob Melvin said Wednesday he should really have four hits to his name, having been called out at second base because he allegedly didn't touch first base after smacking a liner to left field on Tuesday.
"He swung the bat well, drove the ball, feels good," Melvin said.
When asked specifically about a Friday return, Melvin replied, "I certainly hope so. That was kind of the plan."
There's no doubt Cespedes has been missed, particularly during a string of seven straight losses with which the A's entered Wednesday's series finale in Minnesota. Over their last 16 games, all played without Cespedes, the A's are batting .189 and have a Major League-low .212 average this season.
At the time of his injury, the 26-year-old Cespedes was leading all rookies in RBIs (21) and stolen bases (four) and was tied for the lead in home runs (five). In his stead at the cleanup spot, Oakland's No. 4 hitters have gone just 15-for-78 (.192).
Cowgill's play forces tough roster decison
MINNEAPOLIS -- All indications point to a Yoenis Cespedes return on Friday, at which point the A's will have to make a difficult roster decision to clear a spot for the outfielder.
Collin Cowgill is the logical candidate to be sent down, but his recent performance and overall energy during the club's rough stretch could potentially be enough to keep him around a little longer. He entered Wednesday 7-for-11 over his last three games and singled in the go-ahead run for the A's in the seventh in an eventual loss on Tuesday.
"He's the type of player that we need here, especially in times like this," manager Bob Melvin said. "You need energy, you need guys who are aggressive. We need to play aggressively. He's been terrific for us, he really has.
"He would be a hard guy to send down. He'd be a difficult send down, if that were the case. We'll see what our options are and talk about it as an organization, but to this point, he's a guy we're relying on every day."
Cowgill hit second in the lineup for a second straight day on Wednesday, as Coco Crisp continues to find his groove with the bat in the eighth spot. Melvin noted an adjustment at the plate has tremendously helped Cowgill, who has reached base in nine of his last 13 plate appearances.
"He's been terrific," Melvin said. "When he first got here, there were a couple of adjustments he made at the plate, and you're certainly seeing the results here recently. I think he's a little wider based. He was a bit narrow in his stance and drifting a little bit."
Should Cowgill stay on board, first baseman Daric Barton -- batting 8-for-46 (.174) over his last 16 games -- is likely to be optioned.