OAKLAND -- After serving one's country, the least veterans can be rewarded for is a trip to the All-Star Game. Or so seems to be the sentiment of Major League Baseball, which has teamed with People Magazine to send 90 finalists (three per MLB club) for the "Tribute for Heroes" campaign.
Corbin Cherry, Jose Patino and Vincent Townsend will represent the A's at this year's exhibition as part of "Tribute for Heroes," a national initiative recognizing veterans and military service members.
The veterans will converge on Citi Field for the All-Star Game on July 16. A "Tribute for Heroes" winner will be featured in an issue of People Magazine, which hits newsstands the week of the Midsummer Classic.
Cherry earned three Purple Hearts, five Air Medals and the Silver Star during a military career that included the loss of his leg while saving three soldiers and a medic while under heavy fire in Vietnam. He also served as the San Francisco Veterans Medical Center chaplain for 25 years, working with veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Stockton, Calif., native Patino began a 20-year career in the Navy at 19. He served with distinction before retiring in 2007, earning five Navy achievement medals and other awards. He was on deployment with the USS Enterprise on 9/11, and his carrier task force launched the first strikes against the Taliban on Oct. 7, 2001.
Townsend is currently completing his law degree at the University of San Francisco after completing his service in the U.S. Air Force. He deployed as a forward air controller to Afghanistan and Mosul and Ramadi, Iraq, during his six years of active-duty service, receiving numerous awards in the process.
A guest panel of retired Generals Peter W. Chiarelli and John M. Keane will be joined by MLB standouts Justin Verlander, Nick Swisher, Barry Zito, Jonny Gomes, Brad Ziegler, Chase Headley and Craig Stammen, along with MLB and People Magazine, in the selection process for the 90 finalists.
"PEOPLE First: Help America's Veterans" is a feature of People Magazine's 2013 charity initiative. Welcome Back Veterans funds programs at Duke University, the University of Michigan, UCLA and the Boston Red Sox' Home Base Program at Mass General Hospital in Boston, among other institutions developing new programs to improve the quality and amount of access to PTSD and TBI treatment for veterans.
Fans are encouraged to visit TributeForHeroes.com to vote on their favorite stories through June 30.
Cespedes exits with tight hamstring
OAKLAND -- A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes left Tuesday's game against the Yankees following just two innings because of left hamstring soreness.
Oakland announced that the decision to remove Cespedes from the game was for "precautionary measures." Manager Bob Melvin reiterated as much after the game but sounded optimistic the injury isn't too serious.
"We'll get a much better indication the next day as far as hamstrings," Melvin said. "Hopefully we caught it at the right time. He felt like he could've played more but we don't want to fool around with a hamstring. It'll be literally day-to-day."
Cespedes' first-inning ground ball up the middle off lefty CC Sabathia was fielded by second baseman Robinson Cano, who made the out at first, where Cespedes winced upon reaching the bag.
He returned to left field for the second inning but was taken out at the start of the third and replaced by Seth Smith.
Teammates tout Cespedes for Home Run Derby
OAKLAND -- The crack of the bat is louder coming from Yoenis Cespedes.
The A's barrel-chested left fielder dazzles fans and teammates alike at batting practice and during games, leaving outfielders with nothing else to do but abandon haste for the ball -- straining their necks like owls as they follow the ball soar into the stands.
"You see him hit balls off scoreboards and walls and places that you get people telling you that they've never seen a ball hit that far," closer Grant Balfour said.
"Those guys hit it out pretty much whenever they want in batting practice,' rookie first baseman Nate Freiman added.
Cespedes could have the opportunity to strut his powerful stroke on a national stage if selected to compete at this year's Home Run Derby, scheduled for July 15 at Citi Field as part of the All-Star weekend festivities in New York.
Robinson Cano and David Wright were announced as Home Run Derby captains Tuesday and hold the responsibility of choosing three teammates each to fill out the competitors for the American League and National League, respectively.
Cespedes stands tied for 10th in the American League with 13 home runs. Baltimore's Chris Davis leads all of baseball with 20.
Hitting coach Chili Davis would prefer if his slugger avoided competing in the spectacle.
"Right now, we've gotten to the point where we've taken some of the length out of his swing," Davis said. "He's got ungodly power, he can hit some balls and amuse some fans in the Home Run Derby, but I don't want him to create an animal that we have to fix in the second half."
Davis said it's up to the individual to decide whether they participate. He'd feel more comfortable if the player possessed a more natural home run swing. In Davis' eye, Cespedes does not qualify.
"For any of my hitters, my biggest concern would be trying to fix something that was created in the Home Run Derby. I try to eliminate it in batting practice because you tend to get out of yourself and start creating bad habits."