PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t have to arrive at Mets camp until Wednesday, when position players are scheduled to report. But the newly re-signed slugger is expected at the team complex on Sunday, well ahead of schedule.
“To have Ces here, it just shows you he wants to be a part of it,” manager Terry Collins said. “He loves the clubhouse, he loves the atmosphere, he wants to be a part of it. Now he’s coming in to be a big part of it. I think that sends a huge message to the other guys that ‘hey, look, he’s not just talking. He’s for real.’ ”
For Collins, the early arrival is more proof of Cespedes’ influence in the clubhouse, one that might have been largely lost behind his theatrics on the field.
Cespedes’ arrival via a trade last July triggered a second-half turnaround, one that featured 17 homers, 44 RBIs and countless moments in which he seized the spotlight. But Collins said he sensed a desire to fit in.
“He loves to be a star,” Collins said. “But I saw him really try to be a good teammate, really, really try. This guy came in and didn’t know anybody.”
Yet that didn’t stop Cespedes from settling in. For instance, Collins recalled Cespedes learning that he and former Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese shared a passion for golf. Two days after his arrival, Cespedes invited Niese to play a round.
“At the end of the year, he was one of the guys,” Collins said. “I think it’s important that he get here and start to establish that relationship with some of the main guys in the clubhouse. Without a doubt, he’s one of the stars.”
Cespedes’ star power translated into a three-year, $75-million deal that brought him back to Flushing. But his return might be more than just a boon for the lineup.
“There’s the obvious reasons, him being a force in the lineup, a star in this league,” leftfielder Michael Conforto said. “Those are very clear. What people don’t see is that every day when he comes into the clubhouse, he gives everyone a fist bump and he says hello to everybody. He takes the time to make sure he does that. That’s a little thing that’s very important. Who he is as a teammate, that’s very important.”
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