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“I saw some video,” he said. “I saw the YouTube video, too. It was good.”

Cespedes‘ reputation preceded him thanks to a 20-minute promotional video put out by his handlers that showcased his power at the plate and deft defense along with his 45-inch vertical box jump, 6.3-second speed in the 60-yard dash and 1,300-pound leg press.

“I mean, it’s hard not to be impressed with some of the stuff,” Beane said.

“The vertical I was a little more impressed with,” said Melvin, who cringed a bit at the sight of Cespedes pushing stacks of weights with his legs as two young men stood atop the 1,000 pounds of iron plates.

The signing of Cespedes to a $36 million, four-year contract, the highest ever for a Cuban defector, is a real splash for a low-budget franchise that surprisingly outbid some big-spending clubs for the slugging outfielder who starred for Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, where he hit .458 with two home runs and five RBIs in six games.

“He’s a physical specimen, he’s got all the tools, and there’s some potential,” Suzuki said. “So, anytime you can add an athlete like that to any ballclub, it definitely brings some excitement.”

“First of all, we thought he was a unique physical talent, strength, speed, we did have a lot of history from an amateur standpoint,” Beane said. “And really to find a potentially center of the diamond player in the prime of his career, those players usually aren’t available to us.

“Anytime you’re putting out that type of money, it’s a risk. But he is a pretty unique talent, you don’t see guys like this come around too often.”

After defecting from Cuba last fall, Cespedes trained with Edgar Mercedes, an agent and owner of the Born to Play baseball academy in the Dominican Republic.

“I’ve been working out for the last seven months. I feel I’m in very good shape and ready to take on this challenge,” Cespedes said. “I feel I can make any adjustment I need to make to play in the big leagues.”

He said he feels he can withstand the rigors of a 162-game season because he always felt plenty strong after his 90-game seasons in Cuba were over. “So, that gives me the confidence to face this challenge of playing a longer season.”

As for acclimating to a new environment off the field, Beane said the Athletics will pair Cespedes with a mentor who will help him learn English and adjust to his new surroundings.

Already, Ramirez, with a locker next to Cespedes, has taken the newcomer under his wing.

“I already talked to him briefly this morning and he was very friendly with me, inviting me to work together this spring training and to spend some time in the cage talking about hitting,” Cespedes said.

He brushed off the notion that his big contract will put pressure on him, saying, “All I know is I have to play regardless. I’m here to play baseball. I’m here to do my best, and to give 100 percent on the field regardless of the money.”

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