Yoenis Cespedes’ return is no longer imminent.
He had been aiming for a Tuesday activation from the disabled list, but Cespedes aggravated his strained right hip flexor/quadriceps while running the bases during a rehabilitation game Saturday. The Mets are sending him to their complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, to continue his workouts, but there is no public timeline for his return.
“It’s not a total setback to day one, but still not feeling the way he would like it to feel to come up here and contribute,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “We were excited about the prospect of getting him back in the few days. But like we said before, we can’t let these injuries stop us from doing what we need to do. We have other major-league players that can step up and get the job done, and that’s what we have to do.”
Consider it another hit to a Mets team that in Cespedes’ absence is sinking in the standings and struggling to score, having plated six runs in 60 innings heading into Sunday night’s game against the Yankees.
The setback again raises a question about Cespedes’ long-term future given his ongoing leg issues. He missed half of last season — the first in a four-year, $110-million deal — because of lower-body injuries.
Callaway acknowledged that playing through some degree of pain may be a reality Cespedes has to accept, this year and beyond. He tried to do that this time around, as he got hurt May 5 but didn’t go on the DL until May 16.
“That’s what everybody is trying to determine. Even Ces himself is trying to figure that out,” Callaway said of playing through pain. “When he initially went on the disabled list, it was to knock this completely out so he could come back and be the healthy player he wants to be. If it continues to drag on, there has to be a level of understanding [that] it may be something you battle throughout the rest of your career.
“I don’t think we’re at that point yet. The goal is still to get him to where he can go out there and feel normal.”
The Mets’ focus with Cespedes is getting him back to play leftfield. Once he’s resettled in left, Callaway said, the Mets “may consider other options,” perhaps first base, which in theory would lessen the load on his legs (while also stifling the benefit of his strong throwing arm).
“Ideally, you spend the offseason, you spend spring training learning how to play a very difficult position,” Callaway said. “To ask his legs to do something [now] he’s never been used to doing would be a tall task.”