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Yoenis Cespedes ‘feeling better, but we want to make sure that we don’t jump the gun with him’

Cespedes, out since mid-May has yet to begin fielding as he tries to work his way back to Mets.

Yoenis Cespedes looks on from the Mets dugout

Yoenis Cespedes looks on from the Mets dugout during a game in May. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Yoenis Cespedes’ right hip and quadriceps are feeling better, Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said Friday, but he is still managing chronic pain in his heels, an issue he has dealt with since he was a teenager.

But that hasn’t bothered Cespedes enough to pause his progress as he tries to come back from a hip flexor strain that has kept him out since mid-May.

“He’s feeling better, but we want to make sure that we don’t jump the gun with him,” Ricco said. “So we’ll take it a day at a time and see how he progresses, but he has been ramping up the intensity recently and so far the returns have been good. So hopefully, it won’t be that long.

“He hasn’t begun fielding. I know he’s been hitting all along, and he’ll start probably the beginning of next week taking fly balls in the outfield and moving around a little bit more. But the big thing for us has been just getting him back to where he can run full speed because that was his main issue.”

The hip and quad issue is not chronic, Ricco said. It’s not clear how directly the heel issues have led to Cespedes’ other leg problems.

“Once he feels good, you got to keep pushing it, and given his history, they want to make sure they check every box before we move him forward,” Ricco said.

Tebow time?

The Mets don’t plan to send Tim Tebow to Triple-A Las Vegas despite recent success with Double-A Binghamton. But they haven’t publicly ruled out calling up the quarterback-turned-outfielder in September.

“We haven’t really talked about that,” Ricco said. “It’ll be something I talk with J.P. [Ricciardi] and Omar [Minaya] about and then we’ll see where it goes. But right now, he’s continuing to develop. You have to just give him credit for the effort level and the commitment and the results are coming with him.”

And the results are indeed coming. Entering Friday, Tebow had a .326/.362/.427 slash line since the start of June, plus a five-game hit streak during which he hit .421 (8-for-19). The improvement has been clear since Tebow dealt with a broken ankle during spring training and into the season.

“He’s making steady progress,” Ricco said. “The thing with him all along was going to be Father Time and whether he has a long enough window in order to make this happen, but he’s trending in the right direction.”

Injury updates

n Noah Syndergaard (strained right index finger) is slated for 65-70 pitches in his Sunday rehab start with short-season Class A Brooklyn. If all goes well, the Mets hope he’ll return Friday against the Nationals.

n Jay Bruce (right hip strain) took batting practice on the field for the first time Friday. “Hopefully we’ll have some better news on him here in the next couple of days,” Ricco said.

n Jason Vargas started agility drills, but hasn’t tested his strained right calf by running yet. He’ll continue to throw live BP/simulated games until he can practice fielding his position.

n T.J. Rivera began a rehab assignment with high Class A St. Lucie on Thursday, going 0-for-4 as the DH in his first game since Tommy John surgery in September. His assignment can last up to 20 days. “Physically, he’s pretty much there,” Ricco said. “It’s just a matter of the timing at-bat wise. We get 20 days under the rules. Whether we need more than that, we’ll see. Everything else is in pretty good shape.”

Extra bases

The Mets are sending two players to the July 15 Futures Game: first baseman Peter Alonso for the U.S. team and shortstop Andres Gimenez for the World team. Former Mets pitcher LaTroy Hawkins will be the pitching coach for the U.S. team, former manager Jerry Manuel the bench coach for the World team . . . Ricco on second baseman Jeff McNeil, who is slashing .410/.460/.679 in 19 Triple-A games: “He’s getting our attention. We have a pretty good second baseman, and that’s pretty much [McNeil’s] primary position, but I would say we’d like to see him at some point take the next step [to the majors].” . . . The Mets will recall righthander Chris Flexen from Las Vegas to start Sunday. Zack Wheeler and Corey Oswalt will start the doubleheader Monday against the Phillies . . . Reliever Paul Sewald rejoined the Mets from Las Vegas, replacing Jerry Blevins, who went on the bereavement list.

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