OAKLAND — The family of Yoenis Cespedes is finally safe after a months-long ordeal that took them from Cuba to the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, Miami and, at last, to the Bay Area to join him. Their arrival in itself is a major burden lifted for the A's left fielder.
He is far from satisfied with his performance on the field this season for the AL West champion A's, who are counting on Cespedes' big bat to help carry them as they make another October run — in another first-round series with the Detroit Tigers, just like last year's best-of-five AL Division Series that went the distance.
Cespedes is quick to acknowledge this year has been largely disappointing, aside from the thrill of capturing the Home Run Derby title during this summer's All-Star Game festivities in New York.
"I'm very happy to have my family here with me," Cespedes said during a recent interview. "Having my family here, I'm more relaxed, and that helps. Although my family is here with me, the thing is the season hasn't gone the way everybody had hoped."
He missed the last two games of a season-ending series in Seattle because of a lingering right shoulder injury. The A's are confident Cespedes will be ready for the playoffs, and they have until Friday to get him healthy before Game 1 of their division series rematch at home.
Cespedes made strides in September, just as he had hoped, and would like nothing more than to put his 2013 frustrations behind him with a successful postseason. He was furious at losing in the first round last fall as a rookie.
"I feel more comfortable playing this level of baseball," Cespedes said of his second year. "I feel better here in the major leagues, but I haven't had the season I would have liked to have. Baseball is that way."
While Cespedes' batting average dropped to .240 in 2013 after he hit .292 with 23 homers and 82 RBIs last year, he still hit 26 homers and drove in 80 runs in 2013 — and became an unlikely Home Run Derby champion in July.
"That was very important for me to win the Home Run Derby and I'm very happy," he said. "I was looking forward to doing this competition but the season hasn't gone the way I would like. I still can do a lot better to help my team."
As he begins his second playoff appearance in as many seasons, Cespedes knows he will get a fresh start on the big October stage.
"Of course I keep working very hard because hope is the last thing you should lose," Cespedes said.
ALDSA's vs. Tigers
Friday: Detroit at A's, 6:37 p.m.
Saturday: Detroit at A's, 6:07 p.m.
Monday: A's at Detroit
x-Tuesday: A's at Detroit
x-Oct. 10: Detroit at A's
(x-if necessary; times TBA)