Game 85 wrapup: A’s need Cespedes to pick it up

This is clearly not the year that Yoenis Cespedes had in mind as he tries to establish his brand on U.S. soil.

After an 0-for-3 night Wednesday, Cespedes heads into the July 4 holiday game against the Cubs with a .224 batting average. He does lead the A’s with 15 homers, but he’s spent some time on the disabled list and he’s 13 RBIs behind team leader Josh Donaldson.

A year ago heading into Independence Day, the one-time Cuban National Team star was a .270 hitter with nine homers and 35 RBIs.

Would he trade either the homer or RBI numbers from this year? Probably not. But the batting average, which includes a .164 average over the course of his last 14 games, is in need of serious work.

It will take a serious surge to get Cespedes up to .270 by season’s end, but he’s clearly capable of better. From July 4 on last year, Cespedes hit .305 down the stretch with 14 homers. He was one of the major reasons the A’s wound up tracking down the Texas Rangers and winning the American League West title.

The A’s are going to need Cespedes to lead the way in 2013, too. True, the A’s are a first place team now, one-half game up on Texas, where 12 months ago they were 10.5 games behind the Rangers.

Oakland has done well getting by without Cespedes taking charge, but it’s time for Cespedes to turn it around.

“If you look at his numbers and his average,’’ manager Bob Melvin said, “he’s not where he expects to be.

“But every time you think that he needs a day to regroup with a day off, he goes out and hits a couple of home runs.’’

Cespedes has three two-homer games in the last month, but since the last time it happened on June 21, he’s a .167 hitter.

With the A’s having had three days off in the last 10 days, giving Cespedes time off doesn’t seem to be the answer.

The trouble is, the A’s don’t know what the answer is.

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.