Cespedes addresses media shortly after arrival
Yoenis Cespedes made his way into A’s camp on Sunday looking right at ease, emitting a sense of comfort that was missing at this time last year as he prepped for his first season in the Major Leagues. Cespedes was facing plenty unknowns yet, as we know, handled everything very well and turned out to be pretty good on the field, too.
The A’s are anxious to see just how much more he can do with a full season under his belt and nagging health issues hopefully behind him. Cespedes said the bone bruise on the bottom of his right foot has fully healed and that the extra stretching he incorporated into his offseason workout routines should help his body withstand the rigors of a 162-game season.
Cespedes was asked about the legal issues that may have bothered him toward the end of last season — he was dealing with a financial lawsuit in the Dominican Republic and worry over his family’s safety, as The San Francisco Chronicle reported — and how resolve of some of those problems have helped to put his mind at ease going into a new season.
He said through translator Ariel Prieto, “I tried to be focused every single day when I went to the field. It weighed on my mind sometimes, yes. It could’ve been a distraction but I tried not to worry about it too much and tried to put all of my mind on the field, to be my best on the field.”
Manager Bob Melvin was well aware of everything Cespedes was going through at the end of the season and couldn’t have been more impressed by the way he continued to go about his business day in and day out, all with a heavy heart.
“He was very communicative with me, so I knew what was going on with him,” Melvin said. “He wears his heart on his sleeve. When he came to the ballpark, it was pretty easy to see what kind of mood he was in on that particular day. He always found a way to go out on the field and perform. Any time your family’s situation is involved and you’re not with them, it’s very difficult, and there were days I was going to give him the day off but he refused and said, ‘I want to play.’ He’s a tough makeup kid.”
Cespedes wants to play every day this year, and he’s not too thrilled about the possibility of DH’ing every once in awhile other than on days when he really needs a day off his feet in the outfield. Melvin, upon hearing this, smiled and said, “I appreciate the fact that he’s taking that attitude. I love that. We want all our guys to play and be out there on the field. We did see last year that it was the first time he played 162 games so we DH’d him some, especially at the end. He plays awfully hard. It’s not like he goes out there and paces himself.”
The big question facing Cespedes today, on whether he was going to grow a beard, was met with a resounding “No.” He could only shake his head upon mention of Josh Reddick’s beard.
All players are taking part in the club’s first full-squad workout right now. This morning they were engaged in the annual introductory meetings and rah-rah talks, with Melvin offering his squad a simple message as they set out to defend their AL West title:
“You take pride in that, that’s for sure,” he said. “You want to carry that forward but also understand that this is a new year, and you have to let that go. But once you let that go, you have to reflect and ask yourself, ‘What made us good?’ What made us able to win the West?’
“We have a lot of guys that have had success here, and they’ll lead the way as far as how we go about our business on the field.”