"[Cespedes is] really a true No. 4 hitter for us," manager Bob Melvin said. "Not that the other guys that we've mixed in there don't do a good job. I think that he is a true legitimate four hitter. ... I think he certainly gets your attention, whether he's swinging the bat well or not, because he's a threat every time up with his power. So it really is nice to have him back."
Cespedes batted fourth for the A's -- going 0-for-4 in another poor offensive showing by Oakland -- and was in left field for the first time after playing all of his previous 28 games in center. He also was picked off at first by Royals starter Felipe Paulino after reaching on a fielder's choice in the fourth.
Cespedes said he played left field a lot in Cuba and was tested early in this one on a first-inning Mike Moustakas single to left. The ball fell right in front of Cespedes and drove in a run. Melvin said he thought Cespedes might have misjudged the ball.
"One ball it looked like he didn't have a great read on, but whether or not he gets to it I don't know," Melvin said. "That's the thing about playing left field, is the slice off the left-handed bat will sometimes fool you a little bit. But, again, I don't think he gets to it."
Melvin said Cespedes needs to get acclimated to being in left field.
"It's going to take some time for him to feel really comfortable," Melvin said. "He was working hard today early and before batting practice. It's different when you're working in batting practice than it is in the games. He had three games to work on it in Sacramento, and everybody said he looked pretty comfortable out there."
Coco Crisp, who played center field in Cespedes' absence, played there again Friday night.
Cesepdes' bat is a welcome addition to a lineup that badly needs to start hitting. Cespedes, with coach Ariel Prieto translating, said he's going to try to encourage his teammates and help the team anyway he can.
Fellow outfielder Seth Smith spoke about the importance of having Cespedes back in the lineup.
"It'll be good to get a guy who has legit power in there. Any pitch swinging, he can hit it out of the park," Smith said. "Just having a good bat in the lineup will be good for us."