Derby postgame interview with Yoenis Cespedes
ROB BUTCHER: We have Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet marketing and Josh Witherspoon from RBI. Go ahead, Mr. Perry. If you don't have a statement, we'll just straight up open it for questions then.
Q. Could you tell us first of all how you feel overall about winning this event tonight, and what it felt like in your first round, how you were feeling during that first round, especially.
YOENIS CESPEDES: I feel very grateful to the people, Robinson Cano, who asked me to come here, and during the first round while I took my first five swings, I felt that I was really into a rhythm and felt that I could put on a show like I did tonight.
Q. Citi Field is known as a tough park to hit homers in. You made it look pretty easy tonight. How did you make it look so easy?
YOENIS CESPEDES: This stadium may be very difficult, but it's not as difficult as Oakland. And if I can do it in Oakland, I thought, why can't I do it here.
Q. Robinson Cano asked you to participate; during that conversation, was it brief? How did he know you were able to do something like this?
YOENIS CESPEDES: Maybe he has seen me take batting practice when we played the Yankees, but it wasn't anything where he knew; and there was a message that was passed to me when we were playing the Pirates, asking me to call him.
I called him, and he asked me if I would come for the Home Run Derby, and so I decided to come.
Q. You hit 32 home runs in this Derby, which is tied for third all‑time with Cano and Ortiz. You also left five outs on the board when you hit that ninth home run in the finals. If you knew you were that close to the leader list, would you have kept going?
YOENIS CESPEDES: Yes (Laughter.)
Cano told me, once I hit nine, "You can stop." (Laughter.)
Q. It's your first time competing in a Home Run Derby; how would you describe the feeling, especially of having your family here?
YOENIS CESPEDES: Before I came, they asked me if I was going to be nervous because I would be participating in front of possibly 50,000 people. When I was in Cuba, I participated in five Home Run Derbies; it wasn't 50,000 people, but it was 30,000 or 32,000 people and I wasn't nervous.
Q. I know that your mother means a lot to you. I would like to know, was she here today, and what other members of your family were here today?
YOENIS CESPEDES: My mother does mean quite a bit to me, and she has throughout my entire career; and there's actually six members of my family here, and they are standing right here behind you.
Q. We know the significance that the Derby had for you, but what significance do you think it has for the Cubans that are here in the United States, and maybe the ones who watched you on TV?
YOENIS CESPEDES: I'm not sure if they were able to see this in Cuba, but I did speak to my four‑year‑old son a few days ago, and he told me that whatever home runs I hit, to please dedicate to me, to my son, and that's what I did here.
Q. Even though you're not in the game tomorrow, will you be in the dugout cheering the American League on?
YOENIS CESPEDES: Unfortunately I will not be able to. I have to take care of a family matter in Miami and I'm leaving very early, but I wish I would have been able to.
Q. With just six homers in the second round, were you rusty after the hour and a half delay, or did you know you were in the finals and saving your energy for the finals?
YOENIS CESPEDES: The time did affect me a little bit, but I told Mike Gallego, I told him: If you can maintain the same consistency and keep it low to me in the third round, I'll be able to get into a rhythm.
In the second round, unfortunately, there was one that I wanted and there were two or three that were not in my zone, and that also prevented me from hitting more than six home runs.
Q. Where does winning the Home Run Derby rank in your professional career?
YOENIS CESPEDES: I would say it ranks second in my career, because in 2009, I was able to play in the World Baseball Classic against Major League players, and I was able to play center field in those games, and that meant a lot.
Q. With everything that's happened in your career, all the changes, all the media attention, playing for the Oakland Athletics and being here together with us on the table, can you appreciate all of the changes that have taken place in your life?
YOENIS CESPEDES: It's far different from in Cuba. There might be two people at our games. There's only one photographer, and this is completely different and foreign to me. But I'm very happy to be here giving an interview with all of you people here in front of me, and it makes me very proud.
Q. You've spoken about Cuba several times. What would it be like, both for you and for the people back in Cuba, if you were to have a chance to compete in this event against your countrymen, and who would win? (Laughter.)
YOENIS CESPEDES: Not to be disrespectful against him, at all, but I know him from Cuba, and this is not the type of competition where he would be able to excel at. He's not really a home run hitter, so I believe that I would win.
Q. Did you get any good advice from any of the other American League players, and if so, what was the best advice you got?
YOENIS CESPEDES: There was a lot of information that was given to me, a lot of advice, and I can't remember it all, but it will serve me well in my career.
Robinson Cano and David Ortiz came up to me and said, don't hurry, take your time; and when David Ortiz came to me during the first round, he said, take it easy, slow down, you're going great.
Q. At one point, did anybody tell you about competing in this event, and the distance that you were hitting the balls, did you think that that might intimidate the other players in this competition?
YOENIS CESPEDES: I did practice my swing quite a bit for the last two days in Oakland, and this competition isn't about hitting the ball the farthest; it's more about hitting the most.
Q. In your opinion, what does winning the Home Run Derby do for your ballclub, the Oakland Athletics?
YOENIS CESPEDES: It definitely should motivate us to get even better and I know that a lot of fans will be waiting for us, as well as my teammates. Before I left, they asked me to bring home the trophy.
Q. You had kind of a tough first half, personally; is there any reason to think that this performance here will help you going forward in the second half of the season?
YOENIS CESPEDES: In Cuba, I played nine seasons, and the first halves were always poor. The second halves were always my better ones. So I'm not really worried, because I believe that that will happen again.
Q. Do you plan on defending your home run title; or now having won it, are you going to step back and enjoy it?
YOENIS CESPEDES: No, if I have the opportunity to play, to participate again next year, God willing, I will absolutely do so.
Q. How did you feel about Yoenis hitting one of your Chevrolets?
CHRIS PERRY: That was the exciting part for us, but that's the reason why we put it out there was to give him a target to aim for, and bouncing off the hood was pretty exciting.
Thank you. Enjoy the truck.