The sun broke through at Phoenix Muni Sunday, and it finally feels like spring training to me.
First news of the day: A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was granted leave from the team for a couple of days to travel to Miami, where 14 members of his family who fled Cuba with him in two years ago finally reached the U.S. on Saturday.
Cespedes, who left for Florida Saturday night, has been concerned about his family’s well-being in the Dominican Republic, where they had taken up temporary residence after their defection while the outfielder came to the U.S. to play baseball for Oakland last season.
Cespedes’ mother, along with several cousins and aunts, arrived by ship from Turks and Caico Islands and the player was ecstatic when he heard the news that they were about to arrive in the U.S.
“Big smile on his face … tears, and then smiles,” said manager Bob Melvin.
Cespedes is expected to return to Arizona on Monday or Tuesday, the A’s manager said. Tuesday is more likely, considering the quick turnaround to be back inArizonafor an afternoon game.
“He just went back for a short period of time,” Melvin said. “He just wanted to see them and he’ll come back here as soon as possible.”
The manager added that Cespedes finally being reunited with his family was a dramatic development for him personally.
“Big day for him, huge,” Melvin said. “I know there were times last year when he was grinding on it pretty hard – for good reason – and maybe some this spring a little bit. He felt like they were in a good place. It was just a matter of getting them to theUnited Statesand it took a long time to do it.”
The manager said solving the family issue could help Cespedes’ outlook and possibly impact his performance as he embarks his second big-league season.
“It was a very emotional day for him and I know it’s a weight off his shoulders – it’s something he doesn’t have to think about, whereas last year he was constantly thinking about it,” Melvin said.
The A’s and Brett Anderson got a scare in Sunday’s game against Arizona. Anderson had to leave the game after eight pitches when he covered third on an error play and suffered a sprain right trapezius near his neck in a collision with the DBacks’ Adam Eaton.
The 25-year-old left-hander said he came out of the game for precautionary reasons and didn’t think the injury was serious.
“I feel all right,” said Anderson, who said the stimulus treatment he was receiving considerably relieved the pain after about 20 minutes. “It was a kind of freak play at third that you don’t really expect to happen, but it’s part of the deal sometimes. I don’t think it’s anything major – it’s a neck strain/spasm, if you will. They didn’t really give me a timetable or what my process is, but it’s nothing to be too concerned about.”
After Eaton had opened the game with a leadoff single, former A’s shortstop Cliff Pennington hit a chopper to third baseman Josh Donaldson, who misplayed the ball for an error. As Donaldson went to retrieve the ball to his left, Eaton rounded second base and broke for unoccupied third. Anderson sprinted over to cover but Donaldson’s relay was behind him and he but slid awkwardly into the base and Eaton.
“It was pure athleticism at its finest at third base,” the pitcher said.
Anderson, who was making his second spring training start, walked back to the mound under his own power but did not even attempt a warmup pitch before being removed from the game by Melvin and the Oakland training staff. Anderson left the field rubbing the back near the base of his neck, where the trapezius muscle is located.
“You want to pitch and get your work in, but you don’t want to overcompensate and hurt something else more than your neck, whether it be an arm or your legs by changing your mechanics,” he said. I’m not too worried about it. I expect it to be stiff for a day or two, we’ll see, but I don’t expect anything major.”
Melvin said he didn’t expect Anderson would be set back at all by the mishap. As for removing him from the game without even trying a warmup pitch, he added, “A guy like him you never want to take a chance with.”
Best part of Anderson’s eight-pitch outing? A changeup he threw to former teammate Pennington, which Pennington fouled off.Anderson gave him a hard time about it and Pennington laughed.
“It was probably one of the better ones I’ve ever thrown,”Anderson said.
It’s getting harder to see how the A’s are going to keep Jed Lowrie out of their lineup. Lowrie had a double and a two-run homer against the Diamondbacks and both balls were crushed.
Other game highlights: Bartolo Colon looked reasonably sharp in a three-inning stint, allowing four hits and a run, walking one and striking out four. He broke a couple of bats and looked well on his way to regaining his spot in the A’s rotation.
Arnold Leon, the A’s minor-league pitcher who instigated the brawl in the Mexico-Canada game of the World Baseball Classic by purposely hitting a batter, had not yet returned to the team’s spring training camp Sunday even though Mexico was officially eliminated with the U.S. win over Italy Saturday night.
The WBC said it would not issue suspensions sinceMexico had been eliminated (and Canada bowed out Sunday in a loss to the U.S.). Leon is expected back in A’s camp Monday.
Another day for Jemile Weeks, just to be on the safe side with his sore throwing shoulder. The A’s will send him to minor-league camp at Papago Park Monday for some controlled at-bats off live pitching. Melvin wants to be absolutely Weeks is healthy before playing him in a game.
Finally, some roster moves. Most notable among non-roster invitees was shortstop prospect Addison Russell, who was reassigned to minor league camp along with five others. Of players on the 40-man, pitchers Andrew Werner and Jesse Chavez were optioned to Triple-A Sacramento while hard-throwing young prospect Michael Ynoa was optioned to Class A Beloit.