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


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

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.

NEWS: Cespedes not sitting this one out

"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.

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A’s general manager David Forst says he has a stack of strongly worded letters from fans who grow frustrated with many of the team’s personnel moves.

That comes with the territory of running a major league front office. But Forst also said, during a wide-ranging interview on the latest A’s Insider Podcast, that honest critiquing must come from within office walls.

“You do want to do some self-evaluation and self-assessing,” Forst said. “What I don’t do, I don’t go back and second-guess decisions, whether it’s a trade or a signing. I don’t sort of hypothetically think, ‘Well, what if we hadn’t done this,’ because it’s not a good use of anybody’s time. What you do have to do is make sure the process that led to that decision is sound and a good one.”

Certainly one of the most scrutinized A’s moves of recent history was their signing of designated hitter Billy Butler to a three-year $30 million contract in November 2014. That turned out to be a costly mistake, with Butler being released in September with one year left on his deal and the A’s still on the hook for roughly $10 million. Forst acknowledged how poorly that decision worked out but sticks by the initial motivation to sign Butler.

“Look, Billy Butler didn’t go the way we expected, and that’s one that gets brought up a lot,” Forst said. “But I think back to the time when we made that decision to sign him, and what we were projecting Billy to do. It was very clear what our team needed. Again, going into 2015, coming off the wild card that year, we still felt like this was a team that could compete for a division title. So all the things that went into the decision, ultimately I will stand by.”

Forst spoke frankly about several other topics during the podcast. Regarding fans’ frustration about seeing so many high-profile players traded:

“I’ve got a stack of letters on my desk, the substance of which I can’t repeat on the air,” he said with a smile. “… But there’s passion. And I know we have a fan base that cares, and that’s really a good place to be.”

Forst said the A’s definitely will pursue starting pitching this offseason, despite the fact that 1) he’s very optimistic about the crop of young pitching Oakland has developed, and 2) he believes Sonny Gray will bounce back from a poor 2016 season. The GM takes encouragement that Gray made a full physical recovery from a strained forearm.

“Am I going to get the Cy Young (caliber pitcher) from Day 1? I don’t know. But I think there’s a confidence that this was an aberration, this whole year, more than anything else.”

Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


TORONTO -- A most unlikely pitching performance helped put a most unexpected team into the World Series.

Rookie Ryan Merritt coolly delivered a lead to the Andrew Miller-led bullpen and the Cleveland Indians won their first pennant since 1997, blanking Toronto 3-0 Wednesday in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.

Cleveland, which has never hosted a World Series opener, will play Game 1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night against either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Indians will try to boost what's already been a magical year in Cleveland after LeBron James and the Cavaliers earned the city's first sports championship since 1964. The Indians' title drought dates to 1948.

The Dodgers led the Cubs 2-1 going into Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday night. Cleveland didn't play either team this season.

With all of 11 major league innings under his belt, Merritt took the mound and looked just like a seasoned vet. The 24-year-old lefty retired the first 10 batters and allowed only two hits before being pulled after 4 1/3 innings.

Then it was up to Cleveland's tireless relievers to hold a three-run lead.

Miller again did most of the heavy lifting, pitching 2 2/3 innings, and Cody Allen pitched the ninth for the save. Winner Bryan Shaw worked an inning before Miller came in.

Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp homered for the Indians.