Injured Cespedes may pinch-hit this weekend

Injured Cespedes may pinch-hit this weekend

PHOENIX -- Though injured A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes isn't likely to return to the starting lineup until next week in Denver, manager Bob Melvin is hopeful his cleanup batter may be a pinch-hit option during this weekend's three-game Interleague series against the D-backs.

Cespedes, who strained his left hamstring in Thursday's 7-1 win over the Rangers, took part in limited hitting activities inside on Friday and is expected to join the team on the field for batting practice on Saturday. If all goes well, he could potentially come off the bench in the later innings.

"He looked like he was fairly comfortable walking, so I think we'll know more tomorrow when we get him on the field and get him swinging a bat," Melvin said.

Both Melvin and Cespedes are still hopeful a disabled-list stint won't be necessary, which is welcome news, considering the outfielder was already absent for three weeks with a strained muscle in his left hand. Since his June 1 return, he's boosted a sluggish A's offense, hitting .400 with three doubles, one triple and a home run. He has six hits in his past six plate appearances.

"You look at how well we do offensively when he's in the lineup, compared to when he's not, it's pretty significant," Melvin said. "He takes a lot of pressure off other guys in the middle of the order. He's a true No. 4 hitter for us, and just a terrific athlete."