There are not many sluggers in the Oakland A’s lineup, so when Yoenis Cespedes steps up to the plate, fans wait anxiously on the edge of their seats for that monster swing, which usually results in a homerun. When Cespedes cames to the Athletics in 2012, he made a splash with 23 home runs and 82 RBIs. He ended that season with a .292 batting average. The next season was not as success for he only earned a .240 average with a .294 OBP. Cespedes also had 15 less hits and 35 more strikeouts than in 2012. However, during the 2013 Home Run Derby, Cespedes – who was the underdog – won the competition easily, which cemented his image as once again as a power hitter.
Cespedes came to spring training in 2014 with something different in mind – the desire to be something more than just a slugger. Cespedes worked hard during the offseason and changed up his swing so that it is shorter and hopefully more consistent and powerful. He also put on 15 pounds of muscle in order to help with his speed when running the bases and his defense in left field. So, he was really just looking to get on base more and be a more consistent player overall as well as hit those monster homers.
Even though Cespedes went through all this preparation during the offseason, he continues to struggle during spring training. In 46 at-bats this spring, he has averaged .130 with only 8 RBIs and zero home runs. Also, from March 7th to March 16th, Cespedes went through a major hitting slump. He did not hit a single pitch, walked once, and struck out four times in 20 at-bats. It is easy to tell the Cespedes is frustrated with the results of this new swing.
On Saturday, Cespedes played in a minor league game in order to practice his swing in a low-pressure environment. The results were somewhat the same with only one double and a walk in four at-bats. Manage Bob Melvin believes that Cespedes only needs to have a few successful innings in order for this new swing to click. However, there is only a week until the regular season starts. Time is running out.
With Cespedes still trying to get into a groove with this new swing and backup outfielder Craig Gentry still dealing with a back injury, it is becoming increasingly more likely that the Oakland A’s will add a fifth outfielder to their roster for the start of the season. Most likely it will be Sam Fuld who has experience playing in the MLB and has been great during spring training. If Cespedes ultimately cannot master this new swing, it could be a dismal year for the A’s prized slugger.