Yoenis Cespedes set for A’s debut, but what’s it mean for rest of outfield?

If you’re eager to see Yoenis Cespedes in a legitimate big league ballgame, so is A’s manager Bob Melvin. “We know less about him than we do anyone else in camp,” Melvin told reporters Saturday morning. Cespedes will play center field today in his Cactus League debut. He’ll bat second just so he can possibly squeeze in three at-bats before coming out of the game, Melvin said. The highly touted Cuban outfielder will DH on Sunday, but beyond that, Melvin wasn’t offering much about his outfield plans. If the A’s play Cespedes in center field – the spot where he’s most comfortable – that means uprooting incumbent Coco Crisp and likely moving him to left field (with Josh Reddick in right). But Melvin wasn’t tipping his hand on where Crisp will play once he and Cespedes are starting in the same outfield.

“I just wanna see what (Cespedes) has to offer in center field here for a few games before I go down that road,” Melvin said.

We can glean from that that Crisp is likely to play some left field in the coming week as the A’s evaluate Cespedes in center. It’s a delicate issue, and I’m not surprised Melvin is playing it close to the vest right now. There’s one theory that says Crisp is a proven veteran who has earned his stripes in center and deserves to stay there unless he’s clearly out-played at the spot. The other school of thought says Cespedes already has enough to cope with coming to a new country and adjusting to the majors, so let him play where he’s most at ease. And let’s not forget which of those two is getting $36 million. The A’s want to get the most out of that deal, so they’ll slot Cespedes where they think he’s most likely to succeed. The only thing I know for sure: All parties involved will soon grow tired of being asked questions about this. But it’s a hot storyline and it’s not going away, so we’ll keep hammering away at it.

–Melvin gets his first look at Bartolo Colon today. Colon pitched in Mesa on Monday in a split-squad game while Melvin stayed back to watch the game in Phoenix. I’d expect Colon to work four innings or so if all goes well, much like Brandon McCarthy did Friday, since Colon will pitch the A’s second regular season game March 29.

–Last but not least, here’s today’s lineups:

A’s: Pennington SS, Cespedes CF, Smith LF, Ramirez DH, Reddick RF, Suzuki C, Allen 1B, Donaldson 3B, Rosales 2B; Colon RHP.

Reds: Phillips 2B, Valdez SS, Heisey RF, Ludwick LF, Francisco 3B, Frazier 1B, Jones CF, Cozart DH, Hanigan C; Cueto RHP.

Joe Stiglich