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Cuban import shows patience, pop in debut

PHOENIX — Athletics manager Bob Melvin joked before the game that he'd love to see Yoenis Cespedes hit three homers, steal three bases and rob a hitter of a home run in centerfield in his first major-league game Saturday.

He gladly settled for what the Cuban defector delivered: a solo homer, an RBI single and a walk in Oakland's 6-3 win over the Reds.

What impressed Melvin more than the two hits was Cespedes' patience in his first big-league at-bat, when the swift centerfielder didn't take a single swing while drawing a walk off right-hander Johnny Cueto.

"This is the day we were waiting for," Melvin said. "There was a pretty bright spotlight on him today, so for him to be able to go up there and take a walk his first at-bat, I think impressed me as much as the other at-bats.

"Certainly, they got better and better as they went along: a bullet up the middle and then with two strikes fouled off some pitches and then finally got one he could handle and hit it out. So, I would think he's going to go home tonight with a smile on his face, feeling pretty good about his first day."

Indeed.

"I feel great," Cespedes, 26, said with former A's pitcher and fellow Cuban native Ariel Prieto interpreting for him. "The results I had (Saturday) make me feel good."

The slugger had spent his first week in camp acclimating himself both on and off the diamond before getting his first taste of big-league pitching.

Oakland DH Manny Ramirez went 0-for-3 in his return to the lineup after missing a few days because of lower back stiffness.

REIMOLD OKAY: Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold returned to the clubhouse, saying he had a chipped tooth a day after being hit by a pitch in the jaw by Rays right-hander Alex Cobb. Reimold said his left jaw was a little swollen, but otherwise he had no ill effects.

ANGELS: First baseman Kendrys Morales, who hasn't played since fracturing his lower left leg while jumping onto home plate after a winning grand slam on May 29, 2010, has had no problems with the ankle and hopes to make his Cactus League debut in a week or so.

BRAVES: Right-hander Arodys Vizcaino has inflammation in his pitching elbow and will rest for a few days before being reevaluated.

BREWERS: Right-hander Shaun Marcum, shut down Monday because of lingering soreness in his pitching shoulder, threw long toss for a third straight day and is expected to throw a bullpen session today or Monday.

CARDINALS: Ace right-hander Chris Carpenter will miss his next scheduled spring start because of stiffness in his neck.

DODGERS: Rightfielder Andre Ethier was scratched from the starting lineup because of mild stiffness in his back. Ethier felt discomfort during morning batting practice.

METS: Third baseman David Wright, sidelined by stiffness in the left side of his ribcage, won't play for at least another week, manager Terry Collins said.

PIRATES: Right-hander pitcher A.J. Burnett returned to camp eight days after having surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone. Burnett has been cleared to resume workouts as part of a return-to-pitch progression.

Cuban import shows patience, pop in debut 03/10/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 10, 2012 8:32pm]
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