GLENDALE, Ariz. -- "What's with Yoenis Cespedes and his sub-.200 average?"
A local reporter wryly lobbed this question at Bob Melvin on Tuesday morning trying to hold back a grin, and the manager responded with one.
"Oh, I'm not too concerned about that. He's pacing himself," quipped Melvin.
At this time last year, that wasn't the case. Cespedes was spraying balls all over the field and past its walls, eagerly trying to impress his new employers and ease their minds about the $36 million they had just given him.
Looking back, Melvin says, Cespedes may have gone a bit overboard in the early going -- that's just his style, really -- and as a result was worn down by year's end.
"He wasn't as understanding about a 162-game season as he is now," Melvin said. "He was tired at the end of the year. He'll admit that. He was banged up some. We used him at DH some to try to combat that. But I think he now has a better understanding of how to pace himself over the course of a 162-game season."
"Last year I was only in Spring Training for about 15 days," said Cespedes through his translator, A's coach Ariel Prieto. "It was my first year, I didn't know if I could play, and I tried to put out the best of what I had. This year, everyone knows I can play baseball, so I can slow down a little bit."
Cespedes entered Tuesday batting .182, and a 1-for-3 day against the Dodgers, who watched him unleash a home run to left field in the fifth inning, raised it to .194. This, after he spent most of his Monday in Minor League camp, compiling an extra five at-bats on what was supposed to be an off-day.
It was his idea.
"I didn't want the day off," he said. "I want to continue recognizing pitches. I want to hit."
That wasn't an issue in his rookie season, when he led the team with a .292 average and racked up 23 home runs and 82 RBIs in 129 games, finishing second in American League Rookie of the Year voting behind Mike Trout.
Surely, then, he can enter his sophomore season with ease.
"He doesn't ease into anything," Melvin said. "It's kind of who he is. So therefore, it's our job to get him to cut back some. And whether it's early work or late work, he has cut back on that."
Cespedes won't sneak in some at-bats in the Minors on the team's off-day on Wednesday, like he might have last year. Instead he'll play paintball for the first time, with teammate Coco Crisp.
Straily pleased with outing, Melvin perhaps less so
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Dan Straily is being evaluated perhaps more closely than any other member of the club's rotation, for the simple reason that he has the least experience.
But how, exactly, is he being watched?
"You want to see progression, is what you want to see," said manager Bob Melvin. "He's been a little spotty at times, and he's got good enough stuff to be more consistent than he has been at this point."
Straily gave up back-to-back home runs on back-to-back pitches in the first inning on the road in Tuesday's 7-1 loss to the Dodgers before settling in for three shutout frames.
Straily admitted to the pair of mistake pitches but was otherwise very pleased with the way he bounced back, saying, "I feel like today was not that bad at all."
"I felt a big confidence build," he added. "I went out there and felt convicted by every pitch, even the back-to-back home runs. I hung a pitch, and that's what guys do with those pitches. For me to go out there and make two mistakes, it felt like a pretty successful day for me. To throw up three zeros after that, no complaints here."
Melvin wasn't as inspired. Four of the five hits allowed by Straily came with two outs. So did two of the three walks he issued.
"You know, I'm getting tired of saying, 'Yeah, he recovered well and didn't give up anything after the first,'" Melvin said. "He had two outs and nobody on, and he walks a guy on four pitches. You can't do that. You've got to finish the inning."
Straily, who made six big league starts last year, is pretty much assured of at least one start with the A's when the regular season begins while Bartolo Colon serves the remaining five games of his suspension. After that it's almost guaranteed he'll go back to Triple-A.
That was the plan all along, which is why Straily isn't putting too much thought into it. He has a 6.59 ERA with two spring starts to go.
"I'm sure they already knew what they were doing before they got here," Straily said. "I'm sure there's nothing anyone really could have done to change their mind. All I can do is get ready. I'm getting ready for 30-plus starts, whether that's in Oakland or Sacramento. That's not up to me. That's up to the guys up top. I feel like thinking about that stuff would be a waste of time."
• Like clockwork, infielder Eric Sogard hit a single off the bench on Tuesday, and he now has six hits in his last six at-bats to lift his batting average to .531.
• Closer Grant Balfour is officially scheduled to make his Cactus League debut on Thursday, against the Reds. The right-hander spent the first month of the spring rehabbing from minor surgery on his knee.