Yoenis Cespedes definitely wants to be on the field. That was the message from Mets assistant general manager John Ricco during a news conference Monday that showed how big a presence Cespedes is even when he is not here.
As Ricco spoke, Cespedes had not returned from his MRI and further examinations of the sore heels that are threatening his season. Ricco said he and the rest of the organization were waiting to hear the results before making decisions and announcements.
At issue is whether Cespedes — who surprisingly first made the heel condition public after the team’s win at Yankee Stadium on Friday night — needs surgery that could keep him out for the better part of a year.
“I know one thing: Yoenis wants to play baseball. If he can play — and we saw the other night, even with the pain, he’s a difference-making-type guy. He wants to be out there,” Ricco said before the Mets’ game against the Padres at Citi Field.
That tone was more flattering than the ones expressed in comments earlier this season by general manager Sandy Alderson, who has since taken a leave of absence as he battles cancer, and manager Mickey Callaway. While Cespedes was on the disabled list with a strained right hip flexor, those Mets leaders made mild comments about his length of recovery time — remarks that might have rankled the sensitive slugger and possibly inspired his quotes after he homered Friday.
Ricco on Monday identified the key questions this way: “It’s can he play, is it healthy for him to play and ultimately can he contribute positively for us on the field? All that has to be factored in.”
Of the condition of Cespedes’ heels, Ricco added, “It’s something that he’s had and is in the medical records and we were aware of it when we traded for him and then when we signed him. It’s something he has been able to manage through the treatment, the anti-inflammatories, stretching and the orthotics — to this point . . . It’s a condition where he’s had good days and bad days, and he’s had far more good days than bad days in the past.”
Cespedes’ revelation about the possibility of surgery was a flashpoint in a turbulent weekend for the Mets. Jeurys Familia was held out of a game and traded a day later and Noah Syndergaard was diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease, believed to have been contracted when he worked at a children’s camp during the All-Star break.
Callaway suggested Saturday that he had not been aware of comments by Cespedes, but he said Monday that he had misspoken. “I did a bad job of trying to get the question narrowed down,” he said. “My bad. Probably a bad way to do it.”
Like Ricco, he was complimentary of Cespedes. When he was asked what it might mean if Cespedes were to return this season and need extra time off, Callaway said, “It will make some more work for the training staff. It will make some more questions on who is going to play that day so we’ll have to have more talks with guys the night before, to be prepared to come in and play. But I think Ces will be worth it. You saw what he did the other night when he was in there. He helped win us a ballgame.”