The Yoenis Cespedes, first baseman, experiment moved into the more tangible realm of a minor-league rehabilitation game Wednesday.
Cespedes manned first for the Gulf Coast League Mets, playing all nine innings for the rookie-level affiliate in his first infield action since his U.S. debut in 2012. He caught one pop-up and had seven other putouts on groundouts. After going 1-for-4 with a three-run home run, Cespedes is 2-for-8 in two rehab games this week.
Out since mid-May with a hip/quadriceps injury, Cespedes has dabbled with first base in recent weeks as he and the team seek ways to limit the pressure put on his oft-injured legs. The Mets still are evaluating whether Cespedes at first — which they’re pursuing to increase his versatility and potentially keep him in the lineup more often — is a viable option this season. If it is, it would also alleviate the Mets’ outfield logjam (albeit while adding to a first-base logjam).
Last week, manager Mickey Callaway said Cespedes would play leftfield, his natural position, on a rehab assignment.
“We’ll get him ready to come back and be our leftfielder,” Callaway said. “That will be the position he’s playing.”
The Mets have been hopeful Cespedes will be ready to return for this weekend’s series against the Yankees, when the Mets will be able to have a designated hitter. Callaway said Cespedes would have to play a full game, a benchmark he reached Wednesday, though the Mets have not said definitively when Cespedes will be activated.