On a mostly empty field, Yoenis Cespedes’ presence was striking. During a pickoff drill for pitchers, and then again during infield practice, the hobbled leftfielder and maybe DH was manning first base.
Might the Mets be considering a new position for Cespedes, nearly two years removed from his most recent major-league game?
Not so fast.
Manager Luis Rojas said Cespedes’ presence there isn’t too formal an endeavor.
“He wants to show you he's really good everywhere and definitely have fun there,” Rojas said. “I think he's played every position in the book in past history, but we definitely had conversations about it. But nothing serious yet that there's going to be versatility as far as him that we've talked yet.”
The Mets have flirted before with the idea of Yoenis Cespedes, first baseman.
In 2018, before he revealed that he needed and then indeed had season-ending surgery on each of his heels, Cespedes worked out at first while rehabbing leg injuries and even played there in one minor-league game.
In February, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Cespedes — health pending — would practice at first. That effort didn’t get very far, if it got anywhere.
Still, Pete Alonso gifted Cespedes a first baseman’s mitt, Rojas said.
“So he's hanging out with it,” Rojas said. “He's taking his ground balls. He wants to be involved.”
The Mets aren’t exactly in need of another first baseman. Behind Alonso and Dominic Smith, the Mets have Matt Adams on a minor-league deal, plus veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera working out there. J.D. Davis has played there previously, too.
Cespedes, still rehabbing his heels and his broken right ankle from last year, is expected to see time at DH and leftfield if he is healthy enough to play
Asked Wednesday on WFAN whether Cespedes will be ready for Opening Day on July 24, Van Wagenen didn’t say but did speak highly of the progress he has made.
“It’s going to be a continued management of his workload,” Van Wagenen said. “His legs are under him in a way that we haven’t seen since he got injured. That’s exciting.”
Lineup minutia fanatics, make note: In the Mets’ first intrasquad scrimmage of camp — a step up in formality relative to the simulated games of recent days — the A-team batting order started with Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Alonso, Michael Conforto and J.D. Davis.
Robinson Cano was absent.
Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson (three strikeouts) and Jeurys Familia each pitched a perfect inning.
Reliever Brad Brach has not been in Mets camp yet, Rojas said. He joins reliever Jared Hughes among players who have not been around. “We're just not going to talk about the guys when they're not in camp,” Rojas said. … Bench coach Hensley Meulens is in Mets camp after missing the weekend. … The Angels claimed reliever Jacob Rhame off waivers. The Mets replaced him in the 60-day player pool with righthander Ryley Gilliam.