OAKLAND, Calif. -- Yoenis Cespedes returned to the batting cage Saturday, then the bench.
This time, he'll stay there a little longer.
The Oakland Athletics placed the powerful Cuban defector on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his left hand that has bothered the center fielder for days. An MRI exam earlier this week revealed the strain and no further tests are scheduled.
"Anytime it's a hand for a hitter, you want to make sure he's 100 percent before he goes out there," assistant general manager David Forst said. "We tried to treat it and have him play at the same time. Clearly, he wasn't feeling 100 percent, so we're going to be cautious at this point and have him do nothing until he can tell us there is absolutely zero pain there."
The roster move followed a bizarre afternoon.
Cespedes had declared himself "100 percent" healthy and ready to return earlier in the clubhouse. Instead, Cespedes complained of discomfort in his hand and cut his batting practice short.
The center fielder mostly hit a few grounders and line drives. He sent one ball into the left-field seats, however, the towering 500-foot home runs he often smacks disappeared.
"It's not a bad injury. It's an injury that I can come back from quickly," Cespedes said after Oakland's 3-1 victory over Detroit on Saturday night, speaking through Ariel Prieto, the former A's pitcher who was called off his minor league coaching assignment this year to be the Cuban's interpreter and mentor as he adjusts to life in the United States.
In another odd twist, the A's originally announced they recalled Michael Taylor from Triple-A Sacramento to replace Cespedes. But because Taylor had been assigned to Sacramento a day earlier, the club couldn't make Cespedes' DL retroactive to Tuesday, so Oakland instead recalled Josh Donaldson.
Cespedes is eligible to come off the disabled list on May 22.
Also, slugger Kila Ka'aihue was a late scratch from the lineup. He strained a hamstring sliding into second Friday night, Forst said, but is not expected to land on the disabled list.
Second baseman Jemile Weeks also sprained his left ankle running out a single in the second inning Saturday. Weeks said the injury is minor and he could be back in the lineup Sunday.
Of far bigger concern is Cespedes' status.
Cespedes signed a $36 million, four-year deal this spring after defecting from Cuba. He is batting .245 with five homers and 21 RBIs this season, mostly in the cleanup spot, and has shown promising power.
Collin Cowgill replaced Cespedes and batted ninth.
A's manager Bob Melvin called placing Cespedes on the DL a "precautionary" move. Earlier in the afternoon, he had talked about how fortunate the low-budget club was to land such a prospect this offseason.
"We're not going to be able to sign the $15 million, $20 million (a year) free agent, so this is our best shot to get that type of talent," Melvin said. "It was a number that's manageable for us. I have to really give our scouting staff and our front office credit for taking the chance on a player like that, because he is a terrific talent, no doubt about that. He's just going to get better and better."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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