A’s need Yoenis Cespedes back quickly

A few random thoughts at the end of the A’s four-game homestand, which felt more like a laundry stop as we head right back out on the road for Arizona …

–The word on Yoenis Cespedes’ hamstring strain is that it’s minor. A’s manager Bob Melvin doesn’t expect Cespedes to play Friday against the Diamondbacks, but he’s hopeful Cespedes can pinch-hit by Saturday or Sunday. That’s encouraging news, as we all know hamstring injuries can sometimes sideline players for several weeks. And the way Cespedes pulled up rounding second today, I thought for sure he was D.L.-bound. Knowing the A’s history for injuries, I’m guessing many fans are holding their breath a bit. I don’t blame you. In the seven games Cespedes was back from a hand injury, his impact from the cleanup spot was obvious. He’s a run-producer unlike anyone else on the roster, and when other hitters around him start chipping in as they did in the Texas series, the A’s look like a pretty functional offensive squad.

Speaking of other hitters, you had to like the way Seth Smith swung the bat against the Rangers (6 for 12). Heading into a six-game swing in National League ballparks, I’d expect the A’s to go with an outfield of Collin Cowgill, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick when Cespedes isn’t in there. But Melvin mentioned Thursday morning that Smith and Jonny Gomes will play important roles too as pinch-hitters and double-switch options. “I told them from the fifth inning on, you have to be ready,” Melvin said of his bench players in general.

–Melvin said Wednesday that the clause in Brandon Moss’ contract –allowing him to become a free agent if he wasn’t in the majors by June 15 — played a role in the A’s promoting him and designating Kila Ka’aihue for assignment. I asked A’s GM Billy Beane why the A’s didn’t wait a few more days before making the call on Moss, thereby giving Ka’aihue a longer look as the everyday first baseman to see how he fared. Beane said he and his staff called up Moss on Wednesday partly because the A’s are in a stretch of facing four right-handed starters, and they wanted to give the left-handed hitting Moss a crack in the majors in a favorable situation. “The bar at that position for us all year hasn’t been high, regardless of who we’ve had over there,” Beane said. “We had four righties (facing the A’s), so we thought this was good a chance to get some at-bats and take advantage of a guy who was swinging it well (in the minors).” Moss had 15 homers in Triple-A and he added a solo shot Thursday against Texas.

How much impact should we expect him to make? Time will tell. He is 28 and is a .235 hitter in 250 major league games. Perhaps the A’s think back to Jack Cust and the boost they got from him part way through the 2007 season.  They certainly would welcome even a portion of that production.

That’s all for now … check in w/you tomorrow


Joe Stiglich