Yoenis Cespedes stood at home plate, ready to hit. Fresh off his wondrous drive to the upper deck in leftfield against the Cubs at Citi Field the night before, the Mets’ prime power-hitting threat sent ball after ball to deep centerfield with nice, easy swings.
Only these were limited-flight golf balls that he was sending up off a slice of green turf covering the plate Friday morning at Park of the Americas in Queens.
This was Cespedes doing something around his other love. After taking those swings, he moved from station to station, giving golf tips at a Corona youth clinic hosted by the Mets and the City Parks Foundation, which brings golf to kids at baseball fields.
“I’m a baseball player, but I think in this case, it’s not about baseball or golf,” Cespedes said via an interpreter. “It’s about these children, about helping them better themselves as athletes, about picking a sport and continuing with that.”
The 30-year-old Cuban star is self-taught, having picked up golf in 2013. He said he plays about twice a week during the season, usually shooting from 78 to 82.
He often plays with fellow Mets.
“I’m not trying to talk too much about myself here, but I think right now I’m kind of one of the best,” Cespedes said.
A 12-year-old wearing a Mets cap saw immediate results from the swing advice given by the player wearing his No. 52 jersey. Learning from this notable name felt good, too.
“That was amazing because I wanted him to come, because he’s my favorite player with the Mets,” Fernando Cardenas said. “He was right next to me, and that was a dream come true.”
Mike Silverman, the director of sports for the City Parks Foundation, hoped inspiration dripped on the 35 boys and girls.
“Yoenis is certainly a role model for kids in New York,” Silverman said. “. . . And for kids to actually see him hitting golf balls on a baseball field [says], hey, there are other things you can play besides the sport that I play.”
Cespedes said, “It’s a sport where you really have to have determination and patience to continue to improve.”
He thinks his golf swing helps keep him in the swings of things at the ballpark.
“In golf, I have to keep my hands kind of tucked inside for a swing,” Cespedes said. “That’s something I try to translate into baseball.”
There’s something running through his mind, a plan to take his golf game to a higher level.
“I don’t know if I’ll get there, but I know that after I finish playing baseball, I want to play golf professionally,” Cespedes said. “We’ll see how far I get.”