PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — It may be spring training, but Mets centerfielder Yoenis Cespedes dredged up a bitter memory from last year’s World Series. In an 8-5 split-squad loss to the Astros on Thursday, Cespedes played a ball into an inside-the-park home run.
This time it appeared to be because Cespedes didn’t bother to reach for a ball that he insisted was wedged beneath the outfield fence. The umpires disagreed.
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“It was just a misunderstanding more than anything,” manager Terry Collins said.
The goof was reminiscent of Game 1 of last season’s World Series, when Alcides Escobar led off the bottom of the first inning with an inside-the-park homer on Cespedes’ misplay.
Of course, Thursday’s gaffe carried zero consequences, though it nonetheless was bizarre.
With one out in the second, the Astros’ A.J. Reed lifted a fly ball over the head of Cespedes, who gave up on the play when he said the ball got stuck in the gap at the base of the wall.
Cespedes raised his arms and signaled as if to ask for a ground-rule double, though the ball appeared within reach. Second-base umpire C.B. Bucknor ruled the ball live, then proved his point by lightly swiping it from beneath the fence. Reed jogged home from second as Cespedes and Bucknor discussed the play, which was still live.
“The ball fell under the fence,” Cespedes said through a translator. “It got wedged in there. For me, I couldn’t grab it . . . It should have just been a double.”
By rule, live balls that are lodged beneath the padding of fences are automatic doubles.
Said Collins: “If it sticks under those pads, which it does, you’re not supposed to go get it.”
In 2014, outfielder Justin Upton gave up on a drive by Ian Desmond that wound up beneath the fence. Desmond initially scored, though he was sent back to second base on review.
Of course, umpires determined that the ball was stuck, which was not the case with Cespedes on Thursday.