Yoenis Céspedes homers in Cactus League debut (Video)

David Brown
Big League Stew

PHOENIX — With many eyes watching, Yoenis Céspedes performed with power and patience in his Cactus League debut for the Oakland Athletics on Saturday.

Céspedes launched a long home run, hit a sharp RBI single and drew a walk on six pitches without swinging in making a great first impression on the A's.

"The results from today make me feel good," Céspedes said through his translator and countryman from Cuba, former major league pitcher Ariel Prieto.

"The baseball players here are a lot better than in Cuba. You can find good pitchers in Cuba but here, as you can see, I believe every pitcher I'm going to face is going to be better."

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Céspedes, a defector the A's signed for $36 million over four years after a small bidding war back in February, batted second and played center field against the Cincinnati Reds in a game televised on the MLB Network. Oakland won 6-3.

It was hard to tell if Céspedes was nervous or just curious against right-hander Johnny Cueto in the bottom of the first when he didn't swing — he barely checked on a couple of pitches — on six straight pitches. But he worked a walk — which is always better than making an out.

"I was just trying to recognize pitches," Céspedes said.

Céspedes lined a single in the third inning, but showed his power — what the sellout crowd at Phoenix Municipal Stadium really came to see — in the fourth.

After starting weakly against offspeed stuff from left-hander Jeff Francis, he connected for a long solo home run to left on a 1-2 count. Céspedes trotted around the bases like any other 26-year-old ballplayer who has done so many times before.

"I was happy, because it came right after I had made some bad swings. I tried to make adjustments," Céspedes said. "I adjusted and hit the ball well."

Before the game, Céspedes and Manny Ramirez chatted in Spanish between swings Sunday, and Céspedes got in the cage for a few rounds.

The ball makes a certain kind of sound when struck well, and Céspedes seems to have an ability to sound off loudly. One shot to left field in particular made observer Kurt Suzuki — who was included in their hitting group — go, "Oh!"

Céspedes probably prompted the same reaction among A's fans with his performance.

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