Yoenis Cespedes Mania — if that’s going to be a thing — is about to hit Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where the A’s play their spring training games.
According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, Cespedes is expected to be ready to make his Cactus League debut “by this weekend.”
The 26-year-old Cuban defector has been working out and participating in drills since arriving in Arizona last Friday. He’s scheduled to get six plate appearances in a simulated game this afternoon and should be sufficiently tuned up by Saturday or Sunday.
Cespedes signed a four-year, $36 million contract with Oakland in mid-February.
He batted .333/.424/.667 with a league-record 33 home runs and 99 RBI in 90 games last year in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, and could crack the A’s Opening Day roster with a strong showing this spring.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been granted a work visa and will soon rejoin the Pirates. Kang had previously not been allowed to enter the U.S. after he was arrested for his third DUI in Seoul in December 2016.
There was some thought that Kang wouldn’t ever play for the Pirates again, but things have worked out in his favor. It will still likely be a while until he actually appears in a major league game, as he will need to get back into game shape and up to game speed.
Pirates president Frank Coonelly said, “After a lengthy process, we are pleased that Jung Ho has been allowed to re-enter the United States. We are encouraged by the steps that Jung Ho has taken to date and are hopeful that having the games he loves taken away from him for more than a year has driven home the reality that he must make better life decisions as we move forward together.
As we have communicated to him throughout this process, we will work to provide Jung Ho with the resources and support necessary for him to meet the high expectations that we have for him as a member of our organization and our community.”
The Pirates signed Kang as an international free agent out of South Korea to a four-year, $11 million contract in January 2015. If he were to appear in the majors this season, he would earn a prorated $3 million. He has a club option for next season worth $5.5 million with a $250,000 buyout.