OAKLAND – Yoenis Cespedes spent time Monday morning visiting in the A’s clubhouse before his first game in Oakland since the A’s traded him last July.
Now a Detroit Tiger, Cespedes enjoyed seeing old teammates. And the holiday crowd at the Coliseum enjoyed seeing him too based on the warm greeting he got during lineup introductions and before his first at-bat.
“I’m very happy and excited,” Cespedes told reporters before the game, via interpreter Jorge Ortiz. “I’m not sure how the crowd will greet me. I expect they will be good. The times I was here I didn’t do so badly. I always gave them my best.”
Some faces in the A’s clubhouse were familiar to Cespedes, others surely were not. And Cespedes said he was surprised to see the A’s continue to deal so many All-Star players this past offseason after his departure. Oakland traded away four All-Stars over the winter in pitcher Jeff Samardzija, third baseman Josh Donaldson, first baseman Brandon Moss and catcher Derek Norris.
Told that the A’s have a history of trading away established players, Cespedes responded: “Don't they want to win a championship?”
In fairness, it could be said that the A’s July 31 trade of Cespedes to Boston was the ultimate “win-now” move considering that Oakland got ace Jon Lester back on an expiring contract as part of the return. Outfielder Jonny Gomes also came over from the Red Sox.
But the trade will be debated for years among A’s fans given that the club was 66-41 when Cespedes was dealt and went 22-33 after the trade, then got bounced in the AL Wild Card game.
The Red Sox traded Cespedes and two others to the Tigers in the offseason for starting pitcher Rick Porcello. He entered Monday hitting .289 with five homers and 24 RBI to go with an AL-leading 16 doubles.
Cespedes will be a free agent at season’s end and said he’s enjoyed his time with the Tigers. Asked about playing alongside perennial MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera, Cespedes said: “I watch him a lot. I try to learn from him. But we're very different ballplayers. He's supernatural. The things he does, he can do all of them without even trying. If I tried to do what he does, I would just get into trouble.”