In what amounts to yet another wicked smart move by the underdog organization, the Oakland Athletics have announced that the club will now open the gates early on Fridays so fans can experience Yoenis Cespedes batting practice magic.
With the gates now opening at 4:30 p.m., fans will now be able to take in the spectacle that was on full display at Citi Field on Monday night for MLB‘s Home Run Derby. The 27-year-old slugger won the Derby with five of his 10 outs still in his back pocket, and his last shot traveled 455 feet before crashing off the batter’s eye in straight-away center field.
The Boston Red Sox David Ortiz was so impressed by the onslaught of home runs that he had to pull out his iPad to take some pictures.
The thing is, Cespedes has been launching shots like that ever since he arrived in Oakland. It’s been reported that during pregame batting practice, Cespedes smashes baseballs off the suites, which sit high above center field. The native of Cuba apparently does this regularly, and nobody else does it, well, ever.
As I’ve written before, Cespedes has some of the quickest hands and the one of the most explosive swings I’ve ever seen. He’s a freak in the best way possible.
The only problem, of course, is that Cespedes can be lackadaisical at times, and recently pretty much all the time.
The first-place Athletics currently sit 17 games above .500 and the second-year man is hitting .225. This very deep Athletics team has already proven that it is by no means dependent on the production of Cespedes. But if the powerful left fielder would like to join in, that would be nice.
When he was asked if he was nervous before the derby, Cespedes was quick to point out he’d done it five times before in Cuba. He admitted that there weren’t 50,000 fans, but he estimated that it was about 30,000. It seems as though Cespedes just loves to be the center of attention.
Unfortunately for him, the O.co Coliseum is a relative baseball backwater. But perhaps, the Friday afternoon batting practice sessions will serve as yet another stage, if small, on which Cespedes can shine.