Yoenis Cespedes hopes to play OF

Oakland Athletics slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who has been hampered by an injured right shoulder, still hopes to play the outfield during the American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers.

Cespedes said Monday that his shoulder has improved "not a lot, but some." He also joked that he would play left field "even if I have to throw left-handed."

Whether he starts in left field or serves as Oakland's designated hitter, Cespedes said he expects to play Friday when the Athletics host the Tigers in Game 1.

Cespedes did not play in the final two games of the regular season. A's manager Bob Melvin said he also expects Cespedes to play in Game 1, but he acknowledged that the team will monitor the outfielder's progress this week.

"We just want to make sure he's healthy," Melvin said. "At the very least, he'll be DH-ing."

Although Cespedes' batting average dropped to .240 in 2013 after he hit .292 with 23 homers and 82 RBIs last year, he still hit 26 homers and drove in 80 runs in 2013 -- and he became an unlikely Home Run Derby champion in July.

Cespedes made strides in September, just as he had hoped, and would like nothing more than to put his 2013 frustrations behind him with a successful postseason.

"I feel more comfortable playing this level of baseball," Cespedes said this weekend. "I feel better here in the major leagues, but I haven't had the season I would have liked to have. Baseball is that way."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.