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Dave Magadan recalls the day he watched Yoenis Cespedes hit a bunch of home runs

04.30.12 at 1:30 pm ET
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Yoenis Cespedes has gotten off to a solid start for Oakland. (AP)

Dave Magadan has a lot going as hitting coach for the Red Sox, but he has found time to keep an eye on the source of one of his more interesting offeseason adventures — Yoenis Cespedes.

Magadan ventured down to the Red Sox academy in the Dominican Republic in November to watch Cespedes. The team had expressed interest in the Cuban outfielder, and wanted the coach to offer his thoughts after seeing the 26-year-old in person.

“He was impressive,” Magadan remembered.

Now, with the team — the Oakland A’s — that signed Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million contract in town for a three-game series, Magadan took stock of his impressions regarding the outfielder’s somewhat surprisingly quick major league development. (Heading into the series at Fenway, he is hitting .253 with five home runs, 19 RBI and .834 OPS, while striking out 23 times 79 at-bats.)

“It does a little bit,” said Magadan when asked if Cespedes’ early-season success has surprised him. “He has struck out a lot but I was watching the [Jake] Peavy game, that he pitched against Oakland, and he jumped on a high fastball and hit a double down the left field line off him. I thought he would struggle a little bit more, especially with the average, but he’s held his own. If he can just tread water while he learns all the pitching and acclimates himself to becoming a major league player, there’s not telling what he can do.”

The Red Sox never made a formal offer to Cespedes, not wanting to commit to the kind of annual average value he ended up receiving. But the organization, and Magadan, were left with a favorable impression.

“He was pretty impressive,” said Magadan, who came away with how sociable Cespedes was throughout the day together. “When we saw him it was kind of a controlled environment. He took batting practice. He did simulated games with players who weren’t in camp with us. It was impressive because he hadn’t really played against any kind of competition for a while, so for him to go out there and pretty much hold his own against guys he had never seen before, faced before was good.

“He probably had maybe 15 at-bats and five or six hits, hitting one home run and put on a pretty good show in batting practice. He can hit a ball a long way, especially at that field where the wind blows in it’s hard to hit the ball out. He was driving balls to all parts of the field, out of the park.”

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