Yoenis Cespedes homered in his first game back in more than two months, but it was what he said afterward that had everyone talking.
Following the Mets’ 7-5 win over the Yankees at the Stadium on Friday night, Cespedes said that he learned during his time away that the persistent leg issues that have plagued him during his time with the Mets are due to calcification in both heels. Those cause him to change his gait and have resulted in injury.
Asked about having the issue treated, Cespedes said that he would require surgery and that he was told the recovery time is 8-10 months. He added that if he had surgery, he would have both heels operated on at the same time.
Cespedes shrugged when asked if he thought he could make it through the season.
Cespedes said through an interpreter that he is displeased that there is a perception among those that follow the team that he has not been working hard to return to the team.
“It was very stressful and I was frustrated because I’ve never been out so long. Even though people may not know I worked a lot to get back,” he said.
“I think people have the wrong idea about [it]. I am sure of that. I found some things on social media that, honestly I don’t care, but it shows people don’t know how hard I worked to get back . . . It’s bad that you’re doing your best and working hard every day and people are saying things that are not correct. I am not going to go down and lower my level to their level.”
Cespedes’ homer didn’t go particularly far, and it wasn’t particularly pretty, but when the pop fly deflected off the outside edge of the leftfield foul pole, he circled the bases all the same. He homered in his first game — and his second at-bat — since May 13, fresh back Friday from the disabled list after a mild strain in his right hip flexor lingered for longer than anyone involved expected. He also had a line-drive single to right in the fifth.
“He wanted to get up here as soon as possible,” manager Mickey Callaway said.
Cespedes’ return might involve him playing some first base, something he said he is agreeable to.
He said that “years go by and I will have to start practicing over there.”
Callaway said, “We have to be proactive in making sure we do everything we can to keep him on the field as much as possible.”
Certainly that appears to include working first base into his repertoire — though it is unclear if the move would be permanent or part-time. And it may involve a pair of surgeries.
As for Friday’s game, Cespedes said, “I felt very well.”
He reported no issues running the bases or scoring from second base.
“I feel good on timing,” he said. “When I was in Port St. Lucie [on rehab assignment], I tried to see as much pitches as I could.”
The Mets have Cespedes locked up for two years and $58.5 million after this season. For a day, at least, Callaway was just happy to have Cespedes back. “We need to make sure we keep him out there as long as possible for the rest of his career and try to do everything we can to put him in a good spot,” Callaway said.