Oakland Athletics

Yoenis Cespedes: Is the A's Cuban Star Destined for an Injury-Prone Career?

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 20: Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the Oakland Athletics hits an RBI single against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning of an interleague game at O.co Coliseum on June 20, 2012 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
Matt HinesCorrespondent IJune 25, 2012

Five-tool player budding with talent?

Check.

Promising numbers and efficiency through first half of rookie season?

Check.

Long-term tenure with a small market team?

Check.

Ironclad to injury?

Uh oh. The last thing a struggling A’s franchise needs is another Eric Chavez DL-saga.

Yoenis Cespedes has certainly lit up the Coliseum with his eye-popping moonshots when he’s been in the lineup this season, but unfortunately for the 26-year-old Cuban defector, minor injuries have limited his play in 2012.

Cespedes has already been sent to the dreaded disabled list in his young career, and both the A’s and the front office alike have to be skeptical of his future with the team. While his performance and upside certainly set Cespedes apart, an injury-riddled career could totally derail the highly-touted outfielder. His early injuries certainly raise a red flag.

A gimpy hamstring has hampered the A’s star for the past few weeks. Originally strained in a June 7th game against the Texas Rangers, Cespedes missed four games before re-aggravating it a week later, this time trying to beat out a ground ball at first. Though he was held out of the lineup for an additional five games, he narrowly avoided a second stint on the DL and has since returned as the A’s DH.

And though he’s been regularly penciled in as the clean-up hitter, Cespedes has noticeably and visibly not fully recovered from his injury. He runs gingerly to first base and appears to have a grade one or two hamstring strain. While hamstring injuries can be difficult to play through, they don’t necessarily have lingering health effects. Given that that Melvin is limiting Cespedes' movement by placing him in a DH role, a full recovery should be made given time.

As far as the bum wrist that gave the team an early scare in May, when Cespedes missed nearly a month of action on the disabled list, Cespedes has more than recovered from that malady. At first believed to be a fracture, the minor strain sent Cespedes to the DL more so as a precautionary move by the Athletics to protect their $36 million investment.

Though Cespedes missed considerable time with the malady (22 games), it gave the first-year player ample time to completely recover before returning to the starting lineup. Wrist injuries, when rushed back to action could linger for a lifespan, so the A’s were wise to hold Cespedes out for as long as they did.

A physically inept Cespedes could spell doom to any postseason hopes the low-budget A’s have over the next few seasons. The $36 million committed to Cespedes over the next four years might be pennies on the dollar to some (most) major league clubs, but it’s a hefty price tag for a small market franchise with the second lowest payroll in the majors. Cespedes current contract puts shackles on many transactions the A’s could consider/are considering, and a lame duck Cespedes would be disastrous to Oakland’s future.

Fortunately for the Athletics, Cespedes' injuries have all been relatively minor bumps and bruises that should not linger throughout his tenure with the team. When healthy, Cespedes appears headed to stardom with his explosive pop at the plate and his wunderkind athletic ability. We can only hope, for baseball’s sake, that the young stud can stay healthy enough to tap his full potential.

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