Oakland A's Cespedes' Breakthrough Season Made Possible Thanks to Former Player

Ariel Pietro on the left and Yoenis Cespedes on the right.

Ariel Pietro on the left and Yoenis Cespedes on the right.  (Getty)

The ever so budget-conscious Oakland Athletics were both  lauded and questioned when the team opened up its wallet and scooped up Yoenis Céspedes, outbidding the other 29 major league teams with a four-year $36 million contract.

But in order to make it all work, the Athletics needed to make Céspedes' transition to the majors a smooth one, considering he had just arrived to the United States for the very first time with the rest of his family back from home in Cuba.

That is why the A's also tapped Ariel Prieto, who had signed with the club in 1995 and spent parts of five seasons on the pitching staff, to be Céspedes' interpreter.

It's a process that well, is difficult. It's not too easy to come to a country that you don't know and don't know how it is. It happened to me 17 years ago.

- Ariel Prieto

But Prieto's job this season involves much more than just translating words, he's had to translate life. Céspedes moved in with Prieto, who defected from the communist island, a few months ago, just before the season started in Oakland. Since then Prieto has been the guiding light for Céspedes, a 26-year-old who had signed his first mega deal.

He has adjusted very well to the game out on the freshly manicured fields in America but the day-to-day dealings in a new world that is a totally different ballgame.

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Prieto found himself lost when he got to the United States and relied on a family introduced to him by his agent in Oakland that served as a foundation of sorts. Latinos on the team also helped in the transition but it just wasn't enough.

"It's a process that well, is difficult. It's not too easy to come to a country that you don't know and don't know how it is. It happened to me 17 years ago," Prieto told Fox News Latino.

Prieto acknowledged that Céspedes' adaptation to living a life that's totally opposite of what Cubans are used to back home has gone very well.

Céspedes has been able to balance life on and off the field, relying on Prieto's experience.

"The game of baseball here is a brand of baseball where you don't get to rest. Even on the day when you are off you still have to work to get done," Prieto said in Spanish before going into details of what it is that he does aside from being a bridge for Céspedes and the English-speaking world.

In a sense Prieto has given Céspedes a crash course in 'Life 101'.

"Off the field I have to show him how my life is. Teaching him how I do certain things. What are the steps that I take. What I do when I wake up in the morning."

He's gone over time management, making sure the rookie sensation -who's played an important role in Oakland's regular season and playoff appearance this October- is on time for everything while also taking him out to see visit new places.

"It's very important to be on time when you have a meeting at the time it's set for... There's time to relax at home. It's important to take it easy, you know just go out for a walk because everything does not revolve around the game so that the young guy can relax during the good times and bad times.

"In all, just teaching him everything that has to do with what's outside of baseball due to the fact that in baseball he can find a family because all of his teammates on the team, his coaches and I are always near him. But being away from it is very different. It's another life that he has to be able to understand as well, because it's completely different to that of Cuba."

Céspedes praised Prieto for how he's been able to play a role in his new life, a new beginning he chose once he noticed that the Cuban Baseball Federation wanted him to play on its third team, even though Céspedes had basically led almost all major offensive categories in his last season in the Cuban league.

"I owe him a lot and thank him for everything he has been doing," Céspedes told Fox News Latino.

"He's done a lot for my development in this country. Little by little I get to adapt to a lot of things."

Oakland's decision to bring him aboard has allowed Prieto to reciprocate the favor to a fellow human being in need of direction, after Dominican teammates Stanley Javier and Gerónimo Berroa extended their hands to him back in 1995.

Prieto said he started off alone but as Berroa and Javier began to notice the situation he was in, they assumed the responsibility of helping a teammate who was in much need of direction.

"I think the organization has noticed how important it is when they sign a guy with a high ceiling and a guy that needs to develop in such a short time. You know how important that is to them?," Prieto said.