Cespedes added to AL Home Run Derby team
A's slugger joins Davis, Fielder and Cano in Monday's power competition
PITTSBURGH -- Yoenis Cespedes' exceptionally rare and raw power will soon be front and center on a national stage.
Oakland's Cuban slugger was revealed Tuesday as the final American League participant in next week's Home Run Derby, as chosen by captain Robinson Cano, who texted Cespedes on Monday afternoon with an invite.
The response? An immediate "yes."
"I'm so excited," Cespedes said through A's coach and translator Ariel Prieto. "I'm so happy about the opportunity to be part of the Derby."
Baltimore's Chris Davis and Detroit's Prince Fielder round out the American League Derby squad, while the David Wright-led National League crew consists of Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer and Washington's Bryce Harper.
The 27-year-old Cespedes, owner of 15 home runs this season after clubbing 23 in his 2012 rookie season, is the first A's player to participate in the Home Run Derby since Jason Giambi in 2001.
His presence gives the first-place A's two participants in All-Star events, though only righty Bartolo Colon currently appears on the official All-Star roster, making Cespedes just the fourth player not named an All-Star to compete in the Derby, joining Rafael Palmeiro (2004), Hee-Seop Choi (2005) and Ryan Howard (Phillies, 2007).
Cespedes is hitting just .223 on the season, including .192 in July, with 79 strikeouts through 74 games, but his slow start does not take away from his impressive batting practices, which make him a very likeable pick for the event.
"If it's anything like his normal batting practice, it's going to be a lot of fun to watch," starter Dan Straily said." It's nice to get a second All-Star in there. It's a huge honor for him, and I think it's great you don't have to make the All-Star team to play in the Home Run Derby. He's definitely up there with guys in the league that can hit the long ball."
"If he doesn't win, I'm going to be disappointed," Brandon Moss said. "I see his BP every day, and his regular BP is a home run derby. So he's my pick for sure. If you watch Cespedes every day, you know his BP is to backspin home runs 50 rows deep."
A's manager Bob Melvin typically throws to Cespedes every day, but it will be third base and infield coach Mike Gallego doing the honors next week at Citi Field -- five years after doing so for Dan Uggla as what he described as the "most nerve-racking thing I've ever done."
"But it'll be exciting," Gallego said. "He can put on an electrifying show if he wants to when he's locked in."
There was talk leading up to Tuesday's announcement that Cespedes might ask mom Estela Milanes, a former lefty on the Cuban Olympic softball team, to throw to him, but when asked about the prospect of this Tuesday night, Cespedes smiled and said, "She told me she would if I had nobody else to do it, but I'm not crazy."
Cespedes told reporters he planned to "bring home the win," and his manager and teammates have no reason to doubt him.
"He gets on a roll and, at the very least, he'll hit some balls where balls don't normally go," Melvin said. "You never know how it's going to play out, but he certainly has the ability to do that. He's very exciting to watch in batting practice and doesn't just hit homers. He hits really long homers, so hopefully he can get into a groove. That's what it's all about in those things."
"You're going to see jaw-dropping stuff, that's for sure," Josh Reddick said. "We've seen it, and now the whole world gets to see it when he puts himself on the ultimate stage of home run hitting."
The 2013 Home Run Derby -- part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day -- will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 5 p.m. PT on Monday, July 15. In Canada, the Derby will be televised by Rogers Sportsnet.
Fans can also download the official MLB.com Home Run Derby Game, featuring 24 sluggers from the 2010-12 Home Run Derby events. Connect and challenge gamers on the worldwide leaderboards. Available for free on the Apple App Store: atmlb.com/12S7nch
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.