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To beat slump, Yoenis Cespedes might return to golf

The Mets' Yoenis Cespedes drives in the go-ahead

The Mets' Yoenis Cespedes drives in the go-ahead run with a single in front of Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki during the 12th inning on Friday in Atlanta. Credit: AP / John Bazemore

ATLANTA — Yoenis Cespedes is thinking about playing golf again.

He gave up his other favorite sport months ago to afford his injury-prone legs additional rest, but now, desperate to escape his deep slump, he’s having second thoughts.

Golf was always his answer to previous slow stretches, and it might be the answer again.

“I’m still too lost,” Cespedes said late Friday night through an interpreter.

Minutes removed from his third game-winning hit in a dozen days, Cespedes was a man without answers for his weekslong struggles in his paradoxical season.

He struck out four times before his extra-inning dramatics Friday. Entering play Saturday, he led the major leagues in strikeouts with 34 and was hitting .208.

Yet he was tied for fourth in the bigs with 18 RBIs — six of which gave the Mets a lead — and had four home runs, tied with Asdrubal Cabrera for the team lead.

Cespedes said the issue is his timing and his front shoulder flying open. When he swung a golf club regularly, it helped him keep his hands close to his body, which he wants to do when swinging a bat.

“That helped me a lot,” Cespedes said.

In years past, Cespedes’ routine included a lot of golf and watching video of just one at-bat against that game’s opposing starting pitcher.

This year, it has been no golf and lots of video (a normal piece of preparation for the modern-day ballplayer). Cespedes said he asks the Mets’ video department for his at-bats from 2015 — his best year as a big-leaguer — to compare his mechanics then to what he is doing at the plate now.

The homework hasn’t worked. Cespedes had a solid six games to begin the season, but in two weeks since and through his game-winner Friday, he was 10-for-55 (.182) with a .465 OPS. He had 25 strikeouts to two walks in that period.

Mickey Callaway commended Cespedes for, despite his struggles, sticking with a consistent offensive approach.

“You see Ces come in every day and whether things are going good or bad, he’s the same guy,” Cespedes said. “He just comes here to play baseball. You can tell he loves it. And that approach usually ends up working out in the long run.”

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