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Mets' Yoenis Cespedes: I'll be ready for World Series

New York Mets centerfielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) walks

New York Mets centerfielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) walks to the dugout during warmups during Game 4 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The last word about Yoenis Cespedes' status for Game 1 of the World Series was only one word -- in English, no less.

When he was asked during a news conference if he will be ready to face the Royals on Tuesday night, he quickly and definitively said, "Yeah."

Despite having chosen not to take batting practice at Citi Field on Saturday, two days after receiving a cortisone shot in his left shoulder, the slugging outfielder added that he will practice Sunday and Monday and will insist on playing both offense and defense. Mets manager Terry Collins confirmed that Cespedes wanted to take an extra day to make sure that the injection took hold and that "he said he feels a whole lot better."

The native of Cuba, whose arrival before the trading deadline and subsequent hot streak turned around the Mets' season, said through an interpreter, "I don't like being a designated hitter. I don't feel like I'm part of the game and truly contribute like I can when I'm playing [the field]."

He left NLCS Game 4 against the Cubs in the second inning Wednesday night but said afterward that he would cut off his shoulder and replace it with a new one if he didn't feel better by Sunday. It appears as if do-it-yourself surgery will not be necessary.

"I don't think it's going to limit me. And honestly, if I really truly didn't feel 100 percent, I would not have a problem just stepping down and saying I can't play," he said. "But I feel like I'll be ready."

So he believes he will be ready to try to tee off on Royals pitching, pardon the expression. Cespedes' devotion to golf became a thorny subject when it was revealed that he had played on the morning of the eventual clinching game at Medinah Country Club, site of the 2012 Ryder Cup and other big tournaments.

The Mets have accepted their slugger's obsession, with Collins -- also an avid golfer -- saying on Friday, "He plays golf every day, almost."

Collins and management were insistent that the injury did not occur with clubs in Cespedes' hands. Cespedes said Saturday that he still is not sure, but he did not refute the speculation that it could have happened while he was doing pushups at cramped Wrigley Field.

"I can tell you that I don't usually do pushups and those two days over there, I was doing pushups because I didn't have a gym I really could do workouts in," he said.

Experts say that nothing in a golf swing would interfere with his baseball swing.

"The kinetic sequence is the same," said John Ondrush, a golf exercise specialist who runs an academy in Syosset that bears his name. "In both, the power starts with the lower body, then goes through the torso and to the bat or the club . . . I've played golf with Mike Piazza and Albert Pujols and they can both hit the ball a long way because they know how to generate power."

Cespedes has told acquaintances that he once hit a 400-yard drive in Colorado's thin air. He said Saturday that golf actually benefits him as a ballplayer. "It helps me out with my swing. It's about a hand movement, keeping my hands on the inside," he said. "It really helps me translate that into my swing with the bat. I really enjoy it. I just relax. I forget any kind of problems when I'm out there.

"I've only been playing for two years, but people who have been playing for a lot longer tell me that I'm pretty good for the amount of time I've been playing, so I'll leave it at that."

He has been waiting all his life for the opportunity that awaits him Tuesday, and he is not about to miss it. "In terms of going to the World Series," he said, "I really have no words to describe it yet."

Perhaps he can start by yelling "Fore!" to warn fans in the leftfield seats when he is at bat.


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