OAKLAND -- It was officially announced today that A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will defend his title in the Home Run Derby during All-Star festivities next week. Unlike last year, Cespedes was already headed to Minneapolis as part of the American League roster for the All-Star Game, but now will be part of the five-man A.L. Derby team announced by captain Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays this afternoon.
The A.L. team includes Bautista, Cespedes, Brian Dozier of the Twins and Adam Jones of the Orioles. The N.L. team includes captain Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies, Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers, Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins and Todd Frazier of the Reds. One spot on each team is still TBA, with that announcement coming Thursday.
Cespedes, who has 14 home runs this season, will try to become the event’s first back-to-back winner since Ken Griffey Jr., in 1998-99. He hit 17 homers in the first round of last year’s Derby and 32 overall, with A’s third-base coach Mike Gallego pitching to him -- as Gallego will do again this year.
Manager Bob Melvin said there’s always some nervousness over having a player in the Derby because of the number of max-effort swings involved, but he supports Cespedes’ decision to defend his title.
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"It was so entertaining last year and whenever you get an opportunity to do that as a player, I certainly understand that," Melvin said. "At the end of the day, it is a very entertaining event, and the fact that he won it last year gave us a little more exposure, probably a good thing. You just hope nobody gets hurt."
Cespedes did develop a wrist issue in the second half last year, but Melvin said today he doesn’t think that was a result of participating in the Derby. This year’s event will be held Monday at 5 p.m. PT.
Asked if he’ll be throwing to Cespedes again this year, Gallego said today: "Yeah, I’m nervous as hell," even though this will be the second go-round. Gallego said he had plans for the break, but he’ll be cancelling those. As for what he learned last year:
"Just try to hit the spot that he’s looking for," Gallego said. "Keep it down. That’s what he likes. I always thought it was a higher fastball, but he wants it low, so that’s what I’m going to strive for."
The Giants did not have any players selected to the Derby teams, though there is that one remaining spot to fill. One player who has expressed a desire to participate -- pitcher Madison Bumgarner, likely not joking at all -- will face Cespedes tonight in game two of the Bay Bridge series. Here’s the lineup for the Giants behind Bumgarner:
And the A’s lineup behind right-hander Sonny Gray:
* Melvin said right fielder Josh Reddick, who went through a full pre-game regimen on Monday for the first time since straining his right knee, could start a rehab assignment as soon as this weekend and likely by the All-Star Break. Reddick said he expects to play at Single-A Stockton during the break.
* Josh Donaldson is in the lineup after showing no ill effects from being hit by a pitch on his left hand Monday night. Donaldson had the hand wrapped Monday night, but Melvin said he "didn’t seem affected by it" when he arrived at the Coliseum this afternoon.
* It’s been a frustrating first half offensively for Jed Lowrie, who enters today’s game batting .228 with four homers. Lowrie has shown signs of life on this homestand, though, recording three consecutive multi-hit games for the first time all season.
Melvin pointed out that Lowrie has been the victim of some bad luck this year, backed up by his batting average on balls in play -- it’s .255, below his career average of .289 and well below his BABIP last year of .319, when he hit .290 for the A’s with a .446 slugging percentage.
"It can affect you confidence-wise," Melvin said. "I know he’s been frustrated. But hopefully this is a sign of better things to come."
* Drew Pomeranz was cleared to catch with his glove hand Monday -- which he broke punching a chair after a bad outing -- and Melvin said he "came through it fine." The A’s will have a clearer plan for Pomeranz by tomorrow, Melvin said.
* The news remains promising on Marco Scutaro, who began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Fresno on Monday night and went 1-for-3 with an RBI in five innings.
"We’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with him," manager Bruce Bochy said.
That means there’s at least a chance Scutaro could join the Giants before the end of July. Depending on the timetable for Angel Pagan, who reported to Arizona today to begin his rehab from a bad disc and nerve irritation in his back, the Giants could potentially have the lineup they envisioned back in January actually on the field before July 31.
"That would be awesome," Bochy said. "Because it’s been a long road for Marco, you kind of -- you don’t lose hope, but you start getting that doubt in there. But now it looks like he’s starting to make some really nice progress, and this really could happen here in July."
Bochy said the Giants still need Scutaro to play nine innings and on back-to-back days before they determine when he could return. But they’re clearly encouraged by Scutaro’s progress.
* Pablo Sandoval returns to the lineup after missing several games with a bruised left elbow after being hit by a pitch in San Diego. Hunter Pence, meanwhile, returns to the No. 2 spot after five games leading off. Bochy said he thinks Blanco has "been getting better swings off, so I’m just going to put a couple speed guys there at the top."
* The Giants were shut out for the fourth time in eight games Monday night and lost their 19th of their last 26th. Bochy was asked this afternoon whether there’s anything to be done to try to snap the Giants out of their funk.
"Well, I think we’ve had some meetings, enough meetings. I think those are over now," he said. "We’ve got to go out there and do it.
"You try about everything including a team meeting, players’ meetings, group meetings, hitters’ meetings. After a while, it’s enough. You go out there and try to do all you can to get out of it."
They’ll try to do so tonight against Gray, who is coming off a strong outing against the Blue Jays in which he allowed one run in seven innings. Bumgarner, meanwhile, has lost each of his last two starts, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) on 15 hits in 11 innings.