PHOENIX - Yoenis Cespedes was back at A's camp on Tuesday, crushing balls in batting practice, a great weight lifted off his brawny shoulders.
Cespedes flew to Miami on Saturday night to see a dozen family members, including his mother, many of whom left Cuba with him in 2011 but were delayed a year and a half immigrating to the United States.
Cespedes played much of his rookie season with the A's amid worry over his family's uncertain situation. Sitting at his locker in the A's clubhouse Tuesday morning, he talked to reporters about that burden and the reunion over the weekend with 12 of his family members.
"Big-time happy," Cespedes said through interpreter Ariel Prieto.
Cespedes said recounting his family's entire ordeal would take more time than he had, an hour before the A's played the Kansas City Royals.
Cespedes defected from Cuba to the Dominican Republic the summer of 2011 and signed with the A's the following spring. He said he went a year without seeing the relatives who left Cuba with him.
Last week, he said, they arrived in the United States from the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Turks and Caicos Sun newspaper reported last November that Cespedes' mother, Estela Milanes, was among a group of Cuban nationals detained for being in the islands illegally and suspected of being subjects of human trafficking. The report said they were awaiting a ruling from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Cespedes, who was named in the report as possibly trying to use the islands as a midway point to bring his mother to the United States, did not say what finally allowed his family to leave the islands. When he learned they would be arriving in Miami, he asked the A's for a brief leave to see them, which was granted. But he said he didn't tell his family - he wanted it to be a surprise.
"I got there (Sunday), opened the door at 6 a.m., and everybody was sleeping," he said through Prieto. "Put the radio on, TV, everything, tried to make a big noise, and nobody woke up.
"Nobody woke up, so I went upstairs and started to knock on doors, scream."
When they finally did wake up, Cespedes said, "The party lasted until I had to go back to the airport to come back here."
A's manager Bob Melvin said Cespedes was in "good spirits" when he rejoined the team.
"He's really close to his mom," Melvin said. "He said the only issue is now he's going to have two hitting coaches."
That's because Milanes was an athlete herself, a softball player who reportedly pitched for Cuba in the 2000 Summer Olympics. Cespedes said Milanes was able to watch broadcasts of some of his games last year and, if they were able to speak over Skype, she gave him hitting advice.
"She'd say, 'You need to be more concentrated or focused,' " said Cespedes, who recalled watching his mother play games in Cuba after school. Cespedes said Milanes didn't throw him batting practice, but one time when they were playing catch, "she threw a curveball without me knowing and the ball hit me in the ear."
Cespedes said contact with his family over the past year was spotty, including a stretch of three or four days in the middle of last season when he "didn't even know where my family was."
He said his mind is more at ease now knowing they are safe in Miami and believes it will help him on the field.
Cespedes finished second in American League Rookie of the Year voting last season after batting .292 with 23 home runs and 82 RBIs in 129 games.
"Last year, I ... tried to put it aside, the issues my family was having," he said. "I believe this year I'm going to be more fresh because my mind is completely clear."
Cespedes has a 3-year-old son still in Cuba whom he hasn't seen in two years. He said he wants to bring his son to the United States but doesn't know how long the process will take.
Asked his son's name, Cespedes said: "Yoenis Jr."