SEATTLE – Yoenis Cespedes is back in left field for the Oakland A’s on Friday for the first time in two weeks. After being relegated to designated hitter due to a sore right shoulder, the defensive work couldn’t come soon enough.
“It’s nice to get him back out there, he’s a pain in the (rear) on the bench,” A’s manager Bob Melvin joked. “He’s a guy that really wants to play the outfield. He gets in the flow of the game offensively and defensively.”
The numbers suggest that’s true.
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Cespedes is batting .321 with an American League-best 19 RBI in September, but he’s hitting just .216 (8 for 37) in nine games at DH since his shoulder injury surfaced. Getting him back in his comfort zone as the postseason approaches is important for Oakland.
Cespedes had two throwing sessions recently and his shoulder came out of it fine. A recent MRI showed tendinitis in the shoulder but no tear.
Melvin said he might announce his Game 1 starter for the ALDS on Tuesday, when the A’s will hold an afternoon workout at the Coliseum. That assignment is expected to go to Bartolo Colon, who makes his final regular-season start Friday night.
Melvin was asked if pitching performances this weekend could affect who makes the postseason rotation.
“I think we have a pretty good idea but there’s still room for potential movement as far as that goes,” Melvin said. “Nothing’s for sure yet.”
But Colon and Jarrod Parker seem pretty set to start Games 1 and 2 of the divisional series, so it would appear rookie Sonny Gray, who goes Sunday, is the only pitcher this weekend who is theoretically auditioning for a spot in the four-man rotation. **
Nate Freiman was scheduled to take batting practice and Melvin considered the first baseman a possible option off the bench. Freiman appears on the bubble for a spot on the American League Divisional Series roster because of an abdominal strain that has kept him out since Sept. 16.
If he proves he’s at full strength this weekend, it greatly improves his chances of playing in the ALDS because he gives the A’s a right-handed hitting option at first base. Catcher Derek Norris did pregame work at first during the last series in Anaheim. **
The A’s will likely hold a simulated game of some sort during workouts leading up their first game of the ALDS on Friday. If the A’s clinch home-field advantage for that series, they will work out Tuesday-Thursday. If they open on the road, they will only work out Tuesday in Oakland before flying out.
“You do have some time off and have some pitchers that need to throw,” Melvin said. “There’ a good chance we could do some simulated stuff, maybe not a full-fledged intrasquad game, but situational stuff where some pitchers are throwing to some hitters.”