Yoenis Cespedes shows up to take physical, will join A’s on Sunday

Well, Yoenis Cespedes arrived to A’s camp Saturday — sort of. He showed up to take his physical and met a few people, but the team isn’t announcing he has joined the team yet. Passing his physical is the last step for the Cuban outfielder’s four-year, $36 million deal to be finalized. It’s rather odd to see a player walk into the clubhouse, shake some hands, but no one is officially acknowledging his existence. At any rate, Cespedes missed the first two weeks of spring training while awaiting his visa paperwork to be processed. He will join his teammates on the field Sunday and address the media for the first time. Players were having fun with his arrival. “It’s a big day for you guys,” Jonny Gomes joked to writers, knowing full well how much ink Cespedes has received before he even showed up.

In other news, A’s manager Bob Melvin discussed his closer situation and said that choosing a ninth-inning man will depend partly on what the full composition of the bullpen looks like. He said spring results for veterans such as Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes won’t factor so much into the decision because of those pitchers’ vast experience. He stopped short of labeling those two front runners to be closer. Fautino De Los Santos and Joey Devine are also under consideration.

But one factor in the decision will be how many left-handed relievers the A’s break camp with. If Fuentes is the only lefty in the bullpen, for example, it might be tough to use him as closer because he might be needed for matchup situations earlier in the game. And that will take some time to play out. Jerry Blevins, Jordan Norberto and Pedro Figueroa, who has impressed early, are all lefty relievers who are legitimate candidates to make the team.

Manny Ramirez originally was going to serve as D.H. on Sunday against the Cubs in Mesa. Instead, Chris Carter will play that entire game at D.H. and Ramirez will start Monday’s split-squad home game against the Angels. “Carter’s the one guy, he had just one at-bat (Friday) and he’s not starting (Saturday),” Melvin said. “So I’ll give him several at-bats (Sunday).”

First baseman Daric Barton had an MRI on his surgically repaired right shoulder, which will delay his throwing program and likely hinder his chances in the first base competition. Barton said he started feeling sore recently as his throwing increased. After missing a couple of days, he was back doing infield work Saturday morning. He is scheduled to swing the bat Sunday and might be available to DH on Monday.”It’s good to be back on the field and be a part of the team again,” Barton said.

We’re off to Peoria for this afternoon’s game against (who else!!) the Mariners. It’s one of the longer Cactus League road trips for the A’s. Surprise Stadium, spring home of the Rangers and Royals, still takes the prize for longest drive from A’s headquarters.


“Captain” Sal Bando drops by Oakland A’s camp

Legendary A’s third baseman Sal Bando visited camp Friday and was introduced to the team by manager Bob Melvin. Melvin, a Bay Area native, wears No. 6 in honor of Bando – captain of Oakland’s World Series championship teams of 1972-74 – and Melvin wants his players to be exposed to some of the franchise greats.

“I think it’s important that these guys understand the history,” Melvin said. “So whenever we have a guy like him around — one of the all-time great A’s — I think it’s important we share that with our guys.”

Manny Ramirez is starting at designated hitter for Friday’s Cactus League opener against Seattle, but Melvin said he’ll pencil in Jonny Gomes as DH for Saturday’s game against the Mariners in Peoria. Ramirez won’t be eligible for the A’s first 50 games while he serves a suspension, so the A’s need to get looks at their other DH candidates who are available for the start of the season. The evaluation period is shorter than usual this spring as the A’s open the regular season March 28 against Seattle in Tokyo.

“We know which guys we need to give more at-bats, and we’re in a little bit of a rush,” Melvin said. “We’re outta here on the 22nd,(to travel to Tokyo), and typically you like to get ‘X’ amount of plate appearances for guys. We’re going to be a little bit short of that, but we understand where we are.”


Josh Donaldson impresses in A’s intrasquad game

Here’s a quick update to catch you up on the afternoon’s news …

–Josh Donaldson was the talk of the A’s intrasquad game, hitting a deep three-run homer and making two nice plays at third base as he makes his bid to win the starting job at that position. The home run was a blast off right-hander Jim Miller that ricocheted off the scoreboard in right-center at Phoenix Muni — impressive opposite field power. Donaldson’s day began with an error — he let a grounder off the bat of Wes Timmons get by him to his left. But he redeemed himself. He made a backhanded stop of Chris Carter’s bouncer down the line and made the throw across the diamond to get Carter. A bit later, Donaldson made a leaping stab of Landon Powell’s liner for the out. “You like to be able to see guys get tested like that, and recover and not go the other way,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.

–Donaldson will start at third base in Friday’s exhibition opener. The full lineup: Weeks 2B, Pennington SS, Crisp CF, Ramirez DH, Smith LF, Reddick RF, Suzuki C, Allen 1B, Donaldson 3B; Godfrey P.

–Catcher Derek Norris also homered off Miller. On the pitching side, Sonny Gray — the A’s 2011 first-round pick — looked good in one scoreless inning. He said his curve ball — his putaway pitch — has yet to come around but he was happy with his changeup, which he’s trying to develop as a reliable third pitch.


Manny Ramirez will DH in A’s exhibition opener Friday

The morning recap as the A’s take infield and prepare for this afternoon’s intrasquad game …

Manny Ramirez will be the designated hitter Friday when the A’s open Cactus League play against the Seattle Mariners. But manager Bob Melvin cautioned not to read too much into Friday’s lineup, backing off somewhat from his statement Wednesday that the starting nine in the exhibition opener might look a lot like his lineup for the March 28 regular season opener. The A’s have several starting spots up grabs, including first base, third base and DH. The look of the outfield is also undecided, with Yoenis Cespedes factoring heavily in that picture when he reports to camp.

Ramirez can’t even play in the regular season until he serves a 50-game suspension. Melvin said earlier in camp that he will rotate hitters through the DH spot. Ramirez will draw starts so he can shake off rust. But figure that Brandon Allen, Chris Carter, Jonny Gomes, Kila Ka’aihue and Seth Smith will also see DH time as the A’s must identify someone for that spot to begin the regular season.

Allen, Carter and Ka’aihue are also competing for the first base job along with Daric Barton. Barton, who is recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder, had a cortisone shot recently and is getting a couple day off from baseball activity. He isn’t expected to be ready to play defense until later this month. Does that put him behind in the first base battle? Melvin says no. “We know what to expect for him,” Melvin said. “We need to get him healthy.”