There will be no pressure on Yoenis Cespedes Monday night as he takes part in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby.
No pressure from first baseman Brandon Moss, who said after Tuesday’s game “if he doesn’t win the Home Run Derby, I’m going to be disappointed.’’
No pressure from manager Bob Melvin, who is Cespedes’s favorite batting practice pitcher but who is bowing out of making a quick cross-country jaunt to New York City.
No pressure from coach Mike Gallego, who will throw batting practice for Cespedes and who said the first time Gallego threw him batting practice this spring, “he hit about 40 homers.’’
Why will there be no pressure?
Cespedes isn’t going to have his mother throwing batting practice to him.
And before you snicker, consider that Estela Milanes, a left-hander, pitched for Cuba in the 2000 Summer Olympics, was generally considered to be one of the better softball pitchers to come from Latin American and who, at her peak, threw 80 mph.
Oh, yeah. She has been known to throw batting practice to her son, the Oakland A’s left fielder.
Once Melvin bowed out, Cespedes was asked through interpreter Ariel Prieto if he considered asking his mother to throw to him.
“I’m not crazy,’’ Cespedes said, breaking into a big smile. “But she told me if I have nobody else, she could do it.’’
Cespedes came into Tuesday the team co-leader in home runs, but with Moss having hit his 16th, Cespedes and Josh Donaldson have to settle for a second place tie for the moment. There is no doubt, however, who Oakland’s heavyweight home run hitter is.
“He’s the right pick,’’ Moss said. “His normal batting practice is to backspin home runs 50 feet (beyond the fence. Every batting practice for him is a home run derby.’’
Melvin has given up more home runs to Cespedes than anyone, and he knows Cespedes’s batting practice swing better than anyone. So the manager isn’t too concerned that Cespedes will fry his stroke during the Monday night spectacular.
“He’s a home run swinger,’’ Melvin said succinctly. “I might pitch if there was a batting practice cage there, but there isn’t, and there’s a catcher. I find that you wind up throwing to the catcher (rather than focusing on throwing to the batter’s strength).’’
Cespedes got a text from the Yankees’ Robinson Cano during batting practice Monday asking if Cespedes would like to be in the Derby, joining Cano, Chris Davis of the Orioles and Prince Fielder of the Tigers. It was a no-brainer question. Cespedes said he’d competed in five similar derbies in Cuba, won one of them and enjoyed them all.
And he’s not going to Citi Field to finish second.
“I’m going there to bring the win,’’ he said.
–This won’t be the first time for Gallego throwing batting practice in the Home Run Derby.
Back in 2008, when he was coaching for Colorado, that he was asked by Dan Uggla for the Rockies to throw BP for him.
And how was that experience?
“It was the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done,’’ Gallego said.
And what does he expect to see from Cespedes?
“It could be electric,’’ Gallego said. “He hits baseballs where most people don’t.’’