03/10/12 7:12 PM EST
Cespedes homers in much-awaited A's debut
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
"There's nothing to see here today. Nothing to see here today," he said.Later, Melvin said that the buzz around Cespedes' debut was definitely good for the franchise. "This is a day we've had marked on the calendar," Melvin said. "With limited resources, this is similar to what Cincinnati did [a couple of years ago] with [Cuban pitcher Aroldis] Chapman. We have potentially a chance to get a very high-end player. We don't have many opportunities to do that." Cespedes had to work his way through a week of obstacles to get here. The decision was made for him to play on Saturday after Cespedes played in his third consecutive simulated game at Papago Park, the A's nearby training complex, on Friday. In one of the most highly attended simulated games, Cespedes 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, Ariz., for a Cactus League game his team won, 6-4, over the Rockies. 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 was evidently game ready. In the previous two simulated games, he hit two homers -- one in each game -- and went 3-for-6 on Thursday. Even the Reds arrived at the ballpark with great anticipation. "I talked to a couple of Cuban friends I have in Miami, and they told me he was a pretty good ballplayer," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I'm surprised the A's signed him." The A's indeed signed Cespedes this month to a four-year, $36 million contract, their highest impact acquisition of the offseason. Cespedes is only 26 and has a chiseled body. His upside potential is obviously tremendous. He began playing for the Cuban national team in 2003 and many may remember him tearing the hide off the ball in the '09 World Baseball Classic when he hit .458 with one double, three triples, two home runs, five runs and five RBIs in six games, even though the Cubans were eliminated by eventual title-winning Japan in the second round. That is all behind him, though, now and the yard stick for Cespedes is succeeding in the Majors. "I am going to try to be a better player here than I was in Cuba," he said. "This is the best baseball in the world. There's not even any comparison."
Barry M. Bloom is 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.