A's Cespedes puts on batting practice display
The center fielder sent numerous balls sailing deep over the fence during the Athletics' first workout at the Tokyo Dome on Saturday, including two that landed several rows behind the center field wall. His display drew noticeable reaction from the crowd of onlookers.
Athletics manager Bob Melvin, who was pitching, was asked his impressions of Cespedes.
"(The same thing) I always think when I throw batting practice to him," Melvin said. "I duck behind the screen so I don't get hurt."
Not that hitting tape-measure shots in batting practice ultimately means much. The test will be what Cespedes does when the games start counting, and Wednesday's regular season opener against the Seattle Mariners offers his first chance to show that.
Having defected from Cuba last summer and signed a four-year $36 million contract with the A's, Cespedes said through interpreter Ariel Prieto that he eagerly anticipates his first major league game.
"I'm happy that I'm one step away from my dream coming true," he said.
And he has some history playing baseball in Japan _ he played here in the 2010 World University Baseball Championships and hit four homers in six games.
The A's have not made a decision on their starting corner infielders yet, Melvin said. With exhibitions on tap Sunday against the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers, and a day off Tuesday before the opener, they might wait to see how things play out in those games before announcing anything.
Josh Donaldson received the majority of playing time at third base during spring training, as the A's viewed him as the best in-house solution after Scott Sizemore was injured. But Eric Sogard hit .341 during the Cactus League to thrust himself into consideration for the job.
Donaldson put on a long-distance show in batting practice that rivaled Cespedes on Saturday.
He hit just .231 during the spring, but the bigger issue for the former catcher is whether he can make the transition defensively.
"I feel really good over there," Donaldson said. "I feel like I've had quality at-bats 95 percent of the time. I'm looking forward to competing and getting that job."
The first base battle is a tough call right now between Brandon Allen and Kila Ka'aihue. Both hit left-handed and are out of options, so the A's couldn't keep both on the roster. And whoever doesn't get the job would have to clear waivers before being sent to the minors.
A group of A's players were set to go karaoke singing Saturday night.
Outfielders Josh Reddick and Collin Cowgill were planning to go, but word throughout the clubhouse is that Allen is the team's best singer.
Allen is one of the quieter A's players, but he sang "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" for one of the team's commercials
"He's got some pipes," catcher Kurt Suzuki said.
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