Cespedes: 'I'll rest when we get a championship'

September 15, 2012, 12:32 am
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OAKLAND -- Yoenis Cespedes has missed 34 games this year, but he's already played 20 more than the 90-game seasons he's accustomed to in Cuba, and he's not close to done. If things go his way, Cespedes will be in the lineup for the final 19 games of his rookie season and beyond.

"I'm going to be in the lineup every day," Cespedes said through translator Ariel Prieto. "I'll rest when we get a championship."

After leaving Thursday's game in Los Angeles with a sprained right wrist -- an injury he's had trouble with earlier this season -- his presence in the lineup was in question.

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"I wasn't 100-percent sure," manager Bob Melvin said. "I think more than anything it scared him a little bit yesterday based on the fact he had that injury earlier in the year. Didn't want to push it. And once he got here today, it was good enough to play. I was thinking DH, but he was good to play the outfield too.

"We're encouraged by that."

The A's can also be encouraged by the fact that Cespedes' numbers are staying consistent -- and good. In just a handful more at-bats after the All-Star break than before, Cespedes has almost twice as many runs, more hits and stolen bases and a batting average that's .046 points higher.

"For a guy that's used to a 90-game season, you can get a little bit run down, as much mentally as physically," Melvin said. "We've been trying to combat that some with some DH spots. Obviously a very important guy for us, so we want to keep him as refreshed as we can."

His importance can't be understated. The A's win a remarkable 64-percent of the games that feature Cespedes. With a 12-22 record in the 34 games he's missed, and a six-team race for a playoff berth, his playing time prophecy could be accurate.

"He wants to play, there's no doubt," Melvin acknowledged.

That said, the team will keep a close eye on him as his game total continues to rise.

"This whole year has been a work in progress for him trying to figure out how to do a 162-game season," Melvin said. "And I think he's done a nice job."

Longevity in baseball is all about adjustments. If his first year playing a 162-game season in a new country against decidedly tougher pitching is any indication, Cespedes could be around for awhile. But Melvin and the A's have a responsibility to keep Cespedes sharp this year, and if it means a day off, he'll have to deal with it. The team is already trying to limit his extra batting practice, as Melvin cited his work ethic and habits of arriving early and taking plenty of swings.

Cespedes, whose wrists were already taped four hours before gametime Friday, said his injury is feeling better, but it's still "a little sore." Indicating he's ready to go, Cespedes joked in English, "I can walk."

Then he went out and hit -- in his regularly-scheduled batting practice -- a 400-foot bomb to left field that landed in an empty seat in Oakland Coliseum's second deck. He can swing too.

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