Last weekend brought us this season’s first incident of a foreign player being brought quickly up to speed with this country’s baseball mores. It also brought us the lesson that reticence doesn’t always count for a whole lot.
The student: Oakland outfielder Yoenes Cespedes, who on Friday pummeled a Jason Vargas fastball 462 feet, the ball landing above the luxury suites in left-center field at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum—a blast impressive enough to inspire the hitter to stand and watch it fly. (Watch it here.)
The teacher: Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, who drilled Cespedes the following day. First base was open, and the Mariners led 7-0 at the time.
Deserving or not, this was a lesson that Cespedes—a recent immigrant from Cuba—did not require. The guy had played in all of three major league games when he went deep, and seemed to quickly recognize his error.
“I followed the ball, but I don’t like that to do that again,” he said in the San Francisco Chronicle, following Friday’s game. “I come from Cuba, where it’s a little less quality games, so we do that. But here I don’t want to do that.”
That didn’t seem to matter to Hernandez. Although the right-hander denied it, Cespedes said he was “100 percent for sure” that the drilling was intentional, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
In the end, it doesn’t much matter. The lesson was sent, intentional or not, and the American League’s early home run leader came away just a bit wiser.