Cespedes on track for Sunday return, Nakajima update

Cespedes on track for Sunday return, Nakajima update
April 27, 2013, 1:45 pm
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In two games with Sacramento, Yoenis Cespedes is 3-for-7 with one home run and four RBI. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

OAKLAND -- The Oakland Athletics celebrated the 40th anniversary of their 1973 World Series Championship in front of a large crowd on Saturday. The entire starting lineup for the 1973 champs were on hand, including hall of fame outfielder Reggie Jackson.

One prominent current A's player was missing. Yoenis Cespedes is in Sacramento finishing his rehab assignment. He is working toward an eventual return on Sunday from a left hand strain he suffered on April 12.

On Friday night, Cespedes went 2 for 3 with a three run home run and a walk. He also played left field. He will serve as the River Cats designated hitter on Saturday and is expected to be in the A's lineup when eligible to return.

The A's are 8-2 this season with Cespedes in the lineup and 5-9 without him. Last year they were 82-46 when he started.

"It's pretty well documented, the record," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He takes pressure off everybody. That's what premier players do."

The return of Cespedes will make an immediate impact on the A's.

"Even when he's not swinging well, the other team knows about him, they are aware of him and everything around him seems to get a littler easier so we look forward to getting him back," Melvin said.

The Sacramento River Cats could get another A's player soon. Shortstop Hiro Nakajima is getting close to completing his minor league rehab stint and will be heading to either Stockton or Sacramento, depending on which team is playing at home when he is ready.

Nakajima is getting the weekend off, but is expected to play six innings on Monday. The plan is to keep him at shortstop. That could explain why Jed Lowrie is starting to get reps at second base.

Speaking of Lowrie, he has 32 hits for the A's in April and is one shy of tying the franchise record of 33, which was set by Stan Javier in 1994 and tied by Ben Grieve in 1998.