PORT ST. LUCIE — Yo, no games since July 20, 2018. And that was his only game that July.
No big talk, either, no quotes “not today, not tomorrow, not at all this year,’‘ Yoenis Cespedes said Monday when approached by reporters before his first workout with the team in the Mets’ new luxurious spring training clubhouse, where Cespedes owns prime real estate, essentially a double locker.
Cespedes needs to let his bat do his talking more than ever before.
Sure, it would have been interesting to get Cespedes’ take on what happened in the wild-boar incident when he suffered multiple fractures in his right ankle on his ranch and not for the Mets last May, but maybe he will enlighten us in his next Roc Nation “Rocky” video.
Hits, not quotes, are necessary from Cespedes.
Maybe that wild-boar incident is better off left to the imagination anyway.
On Monday, Cespedes did go out of his way to engage with fans and even signed some autographs before a live BP hitting session against Michael Wacha. He followed that up with some impressive moonshots in standard BP against coach Ricky Bones.
One excited youngster ran back to his father after getting his baseball signed by Cespedes and exclaimed, “I got Boar Man!”
If Boar Man produces in a big way the Mets will be in great shape in the tough NL East. They have the starting rotation and they appear to have a stronger bullpen. They need Cespedes’ bat in the middle of this lineup.
Cespedes, 34, clearly has a chip on his shoulder and is using all this as motivation. Whatever works. Mets fans want Cespedes’ bat to be loud again and so do teammates.
“He’s a missing piece for us,” shortstop Amed Rosario told The Post. “When he is out there he gives us more confidence.”
Cespedes was 0-for-2019, no at-bats, and has played only 119 games the last three seasons with 26 home runs and a .282 batting average. Who knows if his legs can take the cutting of playing left field? Cespedes has shown he is not about to suffer any injuries sprinting on base paths.
The Mets have Cespedes right where they need him to be, having to perform to get his money, much like 2015 when he was playing for a new contract and was the Best Ces the Mets could hope for after coming over in that trade from Detroit and putting up a .942 OPS in his 57 games as a Met as the team went to the World Series.
Cespedes signed a four-year, $110 million contract after the 2016 season when he opted out of the three-year $75 million contract he signed after the 2015 season.
Cespedes received $22.8 million of what was supposed to be $29 million in salary last season. For 2020, the guaranteed portion of his contract was reduced from $29.5 million to $6 million. His salary rises to $11 million if Cespedes makes the Opening Day roster — or if he goes on the injured list at that juncture for an ailment that does not involve his feet or ankle — and gets prorated at that pay level if he joins the team any time after the season opener. Plate appearance bonuses could add another $9 million to Cespedes’ income.
Cespedes has made about $138 million over his career. He knows how to get paid. He has to figure a way to stay on the field at an advanced age.
Luis Rojas said he is happy with the progression Cespedes is making.
“He looked good running,” Rojas said. “He’s able to do fielding drills right now. It’s a big day for him, first day joining the squad. Going back to the timing when he saw Wacha, he looked really good, almost like he hasn’t missed a beat facing a pitcher, he hit a shot that just went foul.”
Cespedes did lose his bat on one swing.
“He claims it’s been two years since he has seen pitchers, but he was on time,” Rojas said. “That’s not easy to do. He is happy he is joining the guys, joining the team.”
Cespedes wasn’t happy to talk about it.
Yo it goes.