In for Joe Stiglich tonight …
Yoenis Cespedes has been working hard trying to figure out how to hit major league breaking pitches, but off the field, he’s also learning a thing or two about dangling participles.
Cespedes is making a concerted to learn as much basic English as he can to better communicate with teammates and coaches. His personal “coach,” former A’s pitcher and fellow Cuban Ariel Prieto, has been his primary instructor on all things regarding American culture – including the language – but Cespedes wanted more.
In recent days, he has also enlisted second baseman Jemile Weeks to help him with English, and he received a clubhouse lesson Friday from the young second baseman. His goal for the day? He wanted to learn how to say “how do you feel?” so he could ask the ailingCocoCrisp the question. Crisp has been battling from a flu bug the past few days.
Cespedes sat intently with Weeks at a table before the game and school was definitely in session. The outfielder would write a sentence in Spanish and Weeks would translate in English. Cespedes also wrote out the alphabet and spoke the letters in English pronunciation.
So why Weeks?
“He just asked me if I would help him,” Weeks said. “I happen to know a little bit of Spanish to help, so I want to lend a helping hand. Since I spent a lot of time inSouth Florida, so I’ve been around a lot of Latin Americans.”
Weeks isn’t fluent in Spanish but took two years of it in high school and retained much of it since he was able to put it to practice on baseball fields as a teenager.
“InMiami, I had a lot of Cuban and Latin American teammates,” he said. “They would say some funny words now and then and we’d correct them. We’d be trying to learn Spanish, they’d be trying to learn English. So helping comes natural for me. Plus, I know some good Spanish lingo.”
Weeks said he’s had two or three sessions with Cespedes and he already can see distinct progress.
“He’s been coming along with it and working hard,’’ he said. “He knows a lot of words, and the more he understands, it gets easier to teach him. As time goes by, it’ll get even better.”
Manager Bob Melvin said Cespedes has already dropped a couple of English words and phrases on him and he’s impressed.
“Every day he it seems he has another word or two,” Melvin said. “I know he’s got more English in his repertoire than I have Spanish, so he’s passed me. He probably passed me in spring training.”
Cespedes smiled when a reporter asked him, “How do you feel?”
“Very good,”:he said.
Many Latin players play their entire careers and never attempt to learn English. Cespedes does not appear to be one of those players.
“He’s doing a good job putting the effort in,” Weeks said. “He knows a few words and phrases and I don’t think you can ask for much more. It’s a process. I think he has a sense of which guys he can lean on when he really needs to ask a specific question, because there are a few Latin guys who can help him out. But the down side is that he’s in a new country away from family and friends, and these are new friends that he’s meeting. I think he wants to be able to communicate with everybody.”
Weeks was asked if Cespedes, whom the A’s signed in February for $36 million over four years, knows how to say “show me the money.”
“I think he knows that one already,” he said.
Coco Crisp said he was feeling significantly better in his battle with a flu bug but that his head still felt a bit cloudy. He wasn’t in the lineup and said he wasn’t sure he could contribute off the bench but said Saturday or Sunday was a possibility.
Several members of the 1972 world championship A’s team were on hand Friday night to sign autograph and chat with the media. They’ll be honored in a 40th anniversary ceremony Saturday. In attendance were Joe Rudi, Ken Holtzman, Bert Campaneris, Gene Tenace, Mike Hegan, Dick Green, Tim Cullen, Ted Kubiak, Vida Blue, Joel Horlen, Darold Knowles, Rollie Fingers along with former coach Irv Noren and broadcaster Monte Moore.
Current manager Bob Melvin remembers that team well, even though he was only 10 years old in 1972. He was big fan growing up in the Bay Area and he actually attended a couple of the ’72 World Series games. He wears No. 6 now in honor of his favorite player at the time, Sal Bando.
“I’ve often said, it was a lot easier to be an A’s fan than a Giants fan at that point in time,” Melvin said. “I remember sitting between home plate and the dugout maybe 15-16 rows back for the first World Series..At that point in time, it was the highlight of my baseball life at that time. I was kind of young, but I just remember feeling the atmosphere and that was such an entertaining team to watch.
“Not only were they good, they beat you any number of ways. You look at their offensive numbers and think they they were an offensive team but that wasn’t always the case. At times they were challenged to score runs, but they played great defense, they great starting and relief pitching and they had guys who came up big in big situations.”
The A’s optioned RHP Neil Wagner to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for RHP pitcher Rich Thompson, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels earlier in the day.
Thompson, 27, appeared in two games for the Angels this year, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk in 2 1/3 innings for a 15.4 ERA. A native of Australia, Thompson was originally signed by the Angels in 2002 as a 17-year-old, and he made his major-league debut in 2007. Last season, he made 44 appearances for the Angels and posted a 3.00 ERA. He is 3-4 lifetime with a 4.24 ERA in 81 games, walking 37 and striking out 105 in 104 1/3 innings.
Wagner was recalled Tuesday but did not appear in a game with Oakland.
Tonight’s A’s lineup: Weeks 2B, Pennington SS, Reddick RF, Cespedes CF, Smith LF, Gomes DH, Ka’aihue 1B, Recker C, Sogard 3B. Godfrey (0-2) P.