Yoenis Cespedes could be back in the Mets’ starting lineup when they take on the Yankees in a three-game set beginning Friday after the All-Star break.
Mickey Callaway said the opportunity to have Cespedes serve as the team’s designated hitter against the Yankees at the Stadium is “a consideration.”
“DH at-bats — we don’t get a ton of them and I think you have to take advantage of those when you can get them,” Callaway said before the Mets faced the Nationals at Citi Field on Saturday. “So I think that’s something we have to keep in mind.”
Cespedes, who was hitting .255 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs in 37 games, hasn’t played since May 13 because of a hip flexor strain, and the Mets have struggled since. They are 19-16 with Cespedes in the starting lineup; after Saturday’s win, they are 15 games under .500.
An assessment of Cespedes’ readiness will come before any real discussion of a return. He recently tried to run the bases at the team complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and Callaway said Friday that he “ran up to about 90 percent” and that “all went really well.”
“What we’re going to do is, as he comes in [Saturday], get a good idea of exactly where he is at and see if we can move forward with something a little more aggressive,” Callaway said. “I’m not sure what that’s going to be, whether it’s a rehab assignment, whether it’s [simulated] game-type things. But I think he’s done enough now to warrant something a little more strenuous.”
Regardless of the move, Callaway said the Mets will have him evaluated by their scouts.
“You have to rely on the player a little bit in these instances and just the eye test,” he said. “Get some of our baseball people to get an eye on him whenever he starts doing in-game activity to see the timing. All those things that might keep him from doing well in the big leagues. Then you talk to the player: ‘How do you feel? Do you feel confident that you can come up here and hit a major-league pitcher and lay off a nasty slider?’
“There’s several components we need to think of before we call a guy up to know if he’s prepared.”
As Newsday first reported, the Mets have had Cespedes take ground balls at first base, perhaps with an eye to moving him to a position where he is less likely to get injured. That move does not look to be in the immediate cards. Callaway said Cespedes will play leftfield if he is sent on a minor-league rehab assignment.
“We’ll get him ready to come back and be our leftfielder,” Callaway said. “That will be the position he’s playing.”