03/08/12 6:42 PM EST
Manny to rest sore back and play sim game
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
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.