SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The intrigue is over. Yoenis Cespedes will make his debut for the A's on Saturday in a Cactus League game against the Reds at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, manager Bob Melvin said on Friday. Cespedes will bat second and play center field.
Fans can catch Cespedes' debut on MLB.TV at 12:05 p.m. PT.
"Am I looking forward to seeing him out there? Absolutely," Melvin said after the A's beat the Rockies, 6-4, on Friday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. "I think everybody is, even his teammates. It was a wait to even see him [in camp]. Then he gets there and it's all eyes on batting practice. Then it was Papago. We're looking forward to see him out there and being part of the team."
The decision was made after Cespedes played in his third consecutive simulated game at Papago Park in Phoenix earlier on Friday. In one of the most highly attended simulated games, the Cuban-born player went 1-for-4 with an infield single and a strikeout, and played center.
The entire A's hierarchy was there, from owner Lew Wolff and general manager Billy Beane on down to Melvin, who was present for a few innings before catching the bus to nearby Scottsdale. Beane had said afterward that a green light from the training staff was the only impediment to Cespedes playing. That green light obviously was given.
Cespedes is evidently game ready. In the previous two simulated games, he hit two homers -- one in each game -- and went 3-for-6 on Thursday. How much he will play on Saturday is still to be determined.
"It depends on the pace of the game, how he does in the outfield, what he does in his two or three at-bats," Melvin said. "So it's more of feel type of thing."
Melvin said earlier this week that he's not concerned about the outfielder's physical condition, but is concerned that he is not in baseball shape. Cespedes has played in only eight games in the Dominican Republic since he defected from Cuba last year. Melvin confirmed that Manny Ramirez will return from a sore back to be the designated hitter on Saturday and that Seth Smith will play left field. Smith missed Friday's game with a sore back.
The A's signed Cespedes this past month to a four-year, $36 million contract, their highest impact acquisition of the offseason.