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Terry Collins happy to have Yoenis Cespedes on board

New York Mets leftfielder Yoenis Cespedes is seen

New York Mets leftfielder Yoenis Cespedes is seen during batting practice before the game against the Washington Nationals on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015, at Citi Field. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Although he had heard the rumors, Mets manager Terry Collins said he didn't learn that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was coming to Flushing until "3:57 p.m." Friday.

The deal, which just beat Friday's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline and sent minor-league pitchers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa to the Tigers, is widely viewed as being exactly what the Mets needed.

Collins agrees.

"This is a good move," he said before Saturday night's 3-2 win over the Nationals at Citi Field, which put the Mets a game behind NL East-leading Washington. "In all the years I was in pennant races, and there were a lot of them, we never did this. We never got a piece like this. I talked to a bunch of guys when this was announced on the field and you could tell the energy level was big. This is a legitimate guy."

A legitimate guy who can hit the ball out of the ballpark, something he did 32 times en route to winning the 2013 Home Run Derby at Citi Field.

Cespedes hit 18 home runs in 102 games for the Tigers this year, tied for 16th in the American League. The total would have tied him for 12th in the National League entering Saturday night.

Cespedes went 0-for-3 with a walk in his debut before a sellout crowd of 42,996 fans.

Power is something the Mets, tied for eighth in the NL in home runs (89) entering Saturday night, were built for, Collins said.

"When we came out of spring training, we didn't have a lot of speed," he said. "We're a fly ball-hitting team even though, at one time, we were leading the league in double plays. We were built on the fact that we could hit the ball out of the ballpark."

But Collins isn't naive about the possibility that Citi Field will have an adverse affect on Cespedes' power numbers.

"I know it will," Collins said. "There'll be some balls that he'll hit and he'll shake his head because they were homers in Detroit and they're not homers here. But if you were at the home run-hitting contest, he can hit them over the fence here. So I'm not worried about that."

Collins was well informed about his new addition. He said he put in a call Thursday night to former Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who managed against Cespedes when the outfielder played for the A's, looking to find out what might be coming Collins' way.

"I talked to Jim," Collins said. "I said, 'Tell me about him,' and he said, 'I think he's the best leftfielder in the American League.' He said he's got power to all parks and he's a very good defender."

Cespedes did considerably less research than his new manager did, but he said he is aware of the much-publicized strength of his fourth major-league team.

"I've heard all about the pitching that the Mets have," he said through an interpreter before the game. "It's great pitching. I've heard about the bullpen. I don't know much else, just because I've been in the American League the entire time. But I'm looking forward to learning more about it."


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