7/8/2014 10:30 P.M. ET
Cespedes welcomes chance to defend Derby crown
By Jane Lee and Aaron Leibowitz / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- The reigning Home Run Derby champ is back for more.
As expected, Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes has officially been invited to defend his 2013 title, to which he says, "I'm very happy, and I'm going to do my best to defend my crown."
The Cuban slugger will have some stiff competition, including fellow countryman Yasiel Puig, along with the imposing Giancarlo Stanton.
National League captain Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Frazier round out the Senior Circuit, while American League captain Jose Bautista selected Adam Jones and Brian Dozier to join Cespedes at Target Field for the Gillette Home Run Derby, beginning at 5 p.m. PT on Monday night on ESPN.
Home Run Derby participants
|RF||Jose Bautista, TOR (Captain)|
|3B||Josh Donaldson, OAK|
|2B||Brian Dozier, MIN|
|CF||Adam Jones, BAL|
|LF||Yoenis Cespedes, OAK*||National League|
|SS||Troy Tulowitzki, COL (Captain)|
|3B||Todd Frazier, CIN|
|1B||Justin Morneau, COL|
|RF||Yasiel Puig, LAD|
|RF||Giancarlo Stanton, MIA|
"I saw the names," Cespedes said. "I'm going to do my best."
"It was so entertaining last year, and whenever you get an opportunity to do that as a player, I certainly understand that," manager Bob Melvin said. "You can't help but be a little nervous about that, and I think that's the case with any organization that has a player in it. But at the end of the day it is a very entertaining event, and the fact that he won it last year, gave us a little more exposure, probably not a bad thing. You just hope nobody gets hurt."
There is one unclaimed spot in each league, and the A's Josh Donaldson remains an option for the AL side. Those announcements will come Thursday.
Cespedes, who entered Tuesday's game with 14 homers, is attempting to become the Derby's first back-to-back winner since Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99). He'll have A's infield coach Mike Gallego throwing to him again -- "He throws it at the speed I want and at the height I want," he said -- and plans to "hit every one I can."
"What I learned from last year is to be patient and look for a good pitch to hit," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "That's what I'm going to do this year."
Cespedes sustained a left wrist injury shortly after last year's Derby and was held out of four straight games out of the break, bringing to question the physical effects of such an event -- a common reason why several players opt out of it.
But Cespedes' second-half numbers last year ultimately proved much better than his first-half figures, and the A's left the decision to return to the Derby up to him.
"There is a lot of torque in his swing," said Melvin, "and whether or not it was just one swing after that that affected it, or if it was affected during the Home Run Derby -- I would say probably not, based on the fact that when he first came back it wasn't a problem, it just popped up right after that."
A new format has been installed, as the five players from each league will receive seven outs instead of the usual 10 in the first round. The player who hits the most homers in each league will receive an automatic bye to the third round (semifinals). The next two players from each league with the most homers will square off against one another in a head-to-head matchup in the second round (seven outs), with the two winners advancing to the semifinals against the league's top seed (again, with seven outs).
The final round will also consist of seven outs, and, if necessary, the first tiebreaker would allow each of the two remaining participants three swings apiece.
If you can't wait for the actual Derby, the MLB.com Home Run Derby mobile game is a good way to immerse yourself in the action immediately, with Target Field serving as the setting. The game is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play. New for 2014 is Multiplayer Derby Mode, Achievements and Objectives.
Reddick on verge of starting rehab assignment
OAKLAND -- A's right fielder Josh Reddick, nursing a strained right knee, could begin a rehab assignment by the end of this week that would last through the All-Star break, manager Bob Melvin said Tuesday.
"How many games yet, I'm not sure, but that could be the timetable if everything continues to go smoothly," Melvin said.
Reddick successfully went through his first full day of baseball activities on Monday, and he has been wearing a brace on his knee that he could continue to wear through the season if it does not hinder his mobility.
"I'm in favor of anything that keeps him healthy," Melvin said. "If it doesn't bother him too much to where it affects what he does out there, I'm all for it."
This is Reddick's second stint on the disabled list this year. It began June 29, just five days after he had returned from a hyperextended right knee.
Stephen Vogt, Brandon Moss and Craig Gentry have split time in right field in Reddick's absence. Gentry got the start for a second straight day against the Giants on Tuesday.
Oakland teacher to be honored at All-Star Game
OAKLAND -- Keith Debro of Oakland Technical High School was named the A's "All-Star Teacher" on Wednesday, as Major League Baseball, Target and People magazine announced their 30 winners to be recognized before the All-Star Game on July 15.
The All-Star Teachers program honors current and retired teachers who have made an impact on their students and communities. Debro, an A's fan and a special education instructor, fits the bill: He has been teaching for 25 years, and he developed a mentoring program at two local elementary schools in his district.
Debro was nominated for the award before finishing in the top 30 among a pool of 90 finalists in a nationwide vote at AllStarTeachers.com.
Along with the 29 other winners -- one for each Major League team -- Debro will participate in a pregame ceremony at the Midsummer Classic at Target Field.
• A's lefty Drew Pomeranz (fractured right hand) played catch without any issues Monday and should be in the clear to begin a Minor League rehab assignment within the next couple of weeks.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. Aaron Leibowitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.