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03/08/12 6:42 PM EST

Manny to rest sore back and play sim game

PHOENIX -- Manny Ramirez will take a few more days off from game action to rest the sore back that made him a late scratch from Wednesday's Cactus League game against the Dodgers at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Ramirez was left behind to play in a simulated game at the nearby Papago Park complex along with newcomer Yoenis Cespedes and Daric Barton (right shoulder) when the A's traveled to Glendale for Thursday's rematch with the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.

Manager Bob Melvin said that Ramirez would not play on Friday against the Rockies at Salt River Fields but that he should be back as the designated hitter on Saturday against the Reds. The DH will not be used in the road game against the Rockies, Melvin said.

"He's better today," Melvin said of Ramirez, who is 0-for-5 with a strikeout in the two games he's played this spring. "He took a lot of swings [in batting practice] yesterday. He took some swings over here and felt it a little bit."

Ramirez, 39, sat out the entire 2011 season after testing positive for the second time in his career for a performance-enhancing drug, and he will sit out the first 50 games of the season as part of the agreed-upon suspension. During that time he can't play in any games attended by paying fans until a 10-day rehab period just before the end of the suspension.

He's eligible to return on June 2, at Kansas City, and at that point would be the team's DH. But that's a long way off, as far as Melvin's concerned.

"That's a process, too," Melvin said. "We have to get through Spring Training evaluating him. Then it gets to the next step and the next step ..."

Cespedes' Athletics debut just days away

PHOENIX -- Yoenis Cespedes is only days away from his debut in the A's lineup, manager Bob Melvin said on Thursday morning hours before his club traveled west to Glendale, Ariz., to play the Dodgers in a Cactus League game at Camelback Ranch.

For the second consecutive day, the Cuban-born Cespedes played in a simulated game at the nearby Papago Park complex while his new Major League team competed elsewhere. He went 3-for-6 with a pair of singles and a homer.

If Cespedes, who homered in Wednesday's simulated game, continues to make strides, Melvin said he'd be in the lineup either when the A's play the Reds on Saturday or the Royals on Sunday. Both games are at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

"That's what we're looking at," Melvin said during his morning media briefing. "We really don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We want to take this day to day and make sure we pick the right day. If you guys are forcing my hand, this weekend would probably be a decent time for it."

Melvin said earlier this week that he's not concerned about the outfielder's physical condition, but he is concerned that he is not in baseball shape. Cespedes played in only eight games in the Dominican Republic since defecting from Cuba last year.

Melvin also isn't sure whether Cespedes will open as a designated hitter or in the outfield, and even to that end, he wouldn't make a commitment to which outfield position.

"There are three of them," he said. "We have a couple of days here to see him do some outfield work. I'm not going to be locked into that one."

Melvin is also reviewing how Cespedes is adjusting to the entire experience.

"It's been great, but that all plays into this, too, in making sure he's ready when we throw him out in the field," Melvin said. "I'd like to think that we understand what the player is going through. If I was dropped into another country where I didn't know anybody, didn't speak the language and had high expectations on me, that's a lot of pressure.

"I want to make sure that he's not only comfortable on the field, but he's comfortable off the field, that he's comfortable with his teammates. That's why we're going to err on the side of his being ready as opposed to some doubt that he's not."

The A's signed Cespedes last month to a four-year, $36 million contract.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.