Has this road trip been an audition for the Home Run Derby for Yoenis Cespedes?
Strictly speaking, no. But Cespedes’ two homers Wednesday and two more homers Friday may well serve the purpose.
Make no mistake. Cespedes would welcome the chance to head to New York during the break for the Home Run Derby in Citi Field.
“For me it would be something phenomenal,’’ Cespedes said. “In Cuba I was proud of doing it six times.’’
He won once in his homeland, and he is full of confidence that, were the circumstances right, he could win in Gotham, too.
“I believe I could win if God helps me,’’ he said. “I’d like the chance.’’
He also would like A’s manager Bob Melvin, who throws batting practice pitches that Cespedes tends to crush, to be his personal pitcher, but that seems unlikely. The A’s end the first half at home and start the second half in Anaheim, making a quick jaunt to New York impractical.
“They’d probably have to fly me in for that,’’ Melvin said recently, “but I don’t aspire to that.’’
Still, the home runs that count are the ones that Cespedes is hitting now, and he credits a recent change of philosophy.
“Before (the last couple of weeks), I tried to make contact,’’ he said. “Now I have my regular swing.’’
Why the change?
“I don’t feel as good trying to hit line drives. Now that I have my swing again, I feel that I can be more aggressive.’’
–Cespedes saw that another Cuban expat, Yuniel Puig, is off to a fast start with the Dodgers, including hitting a grand slam this week.
None of that comes as a surprise to Puig, who has reached out to Cespedes since coming to the United States.
“Everybody in Cuba knows how good he can be,’’ Cespedes said. “I know he can do more than that.’’
–There’s no room at the inn quite yet for Japanese infielder Hiro Nakajima, who is hitting .319 for Triple-A Sacramento after a couple of hits Thursday.
He played third base Thursday, too, as he continues to rotate from shortstop to second to third. If and when he gets to Oakland, he’ll likely need to be able to play all three positions.
For the moment, however, he is going to have to sit and wait. The A’s have won 17 of 20 heading into Friday’s game and it’s tough to break up that kind of chemistry.
“He’s handled himself beautifully,’’ manager bob Melvin said. “He’s keeping himself ready for a possible callup.’’