Cespedes ropes double in MLB debut

Cespedes ropes double in MLB debut

Cespedes ropes double in MLB debut
TOKYO -- Yoenis Cespedes appeared in a Major League starting lineup for the first time Wednesday, going 1-for-3 with a double in the A's 3-1 loss to the Mariners.

Cespedes struck out in his first Major League at-bat against Felix Hernandez in the second inning. His second time up, he ripped a ball to the warning track in center field and trotted into second base.

Cespedes did not appear in the middle of the order, as expected. A's catcher Kurt Suzuki found himself there instead.

Bob Melvin's first Opening Day lineup as A's manager featured Cespedes batting seventh and Suzuki, normally in that slot, up in the fifth hole as a reward of sorts.

"He deserves to be in there right now," Melvin said. "The way he's been swinging the bat, and also his numbers off of [Felix] Hernandez. With Yoenis, I think he's doing beautifully right now. I think it's more about Kurt than him."

It's hard not to consider Suzuki's history with Hernandez, against whom he's compiled a career .308 batting average (8-for-26) -- the best of any A's player. The 28-year-old backstop, making his fifth consecutive Opening Day start, is also hitting .300 in 12 exhibition games, the last two of which have included home runs.

Meanwhile, Cespedes is gradually making his way through an adjustment period against big league pitchers. The center fielder made his way through exhibition play with a .200 average, and his first assignment in a regular-season setting isn't exactly an easy one.

"I do expect Yoenis to be a middle-of-the-order bat at some point in time," Melvin said. "Whether that's tomorrow, a week from now, I'm not really sure yet. I think with all he's having to deal with right now, he's fine with where he is at this point in time tonight.

"I try to put myself in other people's shoes, and I can't even imagine what he's had to go through, and I think he's handled himself beautifully. He's already one of the guys, he's learning the language, and he's fitting in very nicely."