Yoenis Cespedes takes stock of Red Sox debut

August 02, 2014 - 5:43 pm

There was no doubting whether or not Yoenis Cespedes was welcomed in his Red Sox debut Saturday. The outfielder, who the Red Sox acquired in a trade for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes Thursday, received a roaring ovation from the crowd as he came to bat for the first time in the bottom of the second inning. The cheers didn't stop for him the rest of the afternoon. As for the actual baseball part, Cespedes was fine with that as well. The slugger went 1-for-4 batting cleanup Saturday with a single in his first at-bat -- he scored when Mike Napoli lifted a two-run home run one batter later -- and said through a translator after the game that he "felt very comfortable" in his first game with the Sox. His new manager liked what he saw as well.

"I thought he had quality at-bats," Sox manager John Farrell said. "I thought he worked the count a couple times, he was aggressive early in a couple of other at-bats."

Added Farrell: "He's going to be fine. But to get him in the middle of the order, it certainly lengthens things out. One quick view after four at-bats in one day, I like him in the middle of the lineup."

Cespedes will primarily play right field for the Sox this season, but played left field on Saturday as a result of not having had an opportunity to familiarize himself with right field (a position he hasn't played in the big leagues) at Fenway. He saw limited action in the field throughout the game aside from a short fly he let drop in front of him for a single and a ball he played off the Wall on a hit by Martin Prado.

Cespedes will eventually be transitioned to right. But will have no problem playing left if need be. In fact, he said the structure of left field played to his advantage.

"I felt comfortable out there because I think it's a little bit easier given the fence is so short and I know that anything that's going over my head I'll have to turn around and play it off the Wall," Cespedes said.

The 28-year-old had multiple chances to lead a Red Sox comeback with his bat Saturday, but came up short both times. In the fifth he lifted a fly ball to center with two on and one out that was easily played by Jacoby Ellsbury.

The seventh inning provided Cespedes' biggest challenge. The Cuban had Dustin Pedroia on with two outs against hard-throwing right-hander Dellin Betances. Cespedes had a 2-0 count and was thinking fastball, but couldn't get all of the 100 mile-an-hour heater and popped out to third to end the inning.

"I've only faced one other pitcher like that who's thrown over 100 miles an hour and that was [Aroldis Chapman]. I faced Betances once in New York earlier in the year. He wasn't at that kind of velocity.

"He throws two pitches and I was hunting the fastball, but just didn't get that one."

Still, the Sox appear intrigued to have Cespedes help lead them in the hunt for runs going forward.