PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The time for horseplay has come to an end.
That’s the message manager Terry Collins said he left with the Mets on Tuesday, when Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard triggered a social media sensation when they began the day riding horses around the team’s complex.
“Fun time’s over,” Collins said. “It’s time to get ready for baseball.”
Mets camp has been part clinic, part car show, part petting zoo over the last few weeks, mostly thanks to Cespedes and his colorful antics.
This weekend, Cespedes bought a prized pig from the county fair. Last week, he sent a staffer to Target in a Lamborghini for a round waffle maker. At one point, he was changing cars as if he were changing spikes.
He drove more than $1 million worth of machines to work, including a pair of customized Polaris Slingshot three-wheelers, an Alfa Romeo coupe, and of course, the Lambo.
But on Tuesday, Cespedes threw another curveball, hauling two of his horses to camp at the request of Syndergaard.
About a week and a half ago, Syndergaard said he approached Cespedes with the idea of bringing down a few of his horses from his ranch in Vero Beach. The slugger obliged.
Dressed in full cowboy attire, Cespedes rode around the complex on a colt named Candy. He was flanked by Syndergaard, who literally rode through Port St. Lucie on a horse with no name.
“It just came to me one night when all the hubbub was going around with Cespedes driving his cars to the field,” said Syndergaard, whose father is a quarter horse trainer in Texas.
But the genesis of the idea stems back even further. After Cespedes was traded from the Tigers to the Mets last season, Syndergaard combed through the slugger’s Instagram feed. The first photo was of Cespedes on a horse. The image stuck.
Said Syndergaard: “I’m like, ‘Wow, this is another reason this guy is so cool.’ ”
Because of Picture Day, camp came alive much earlier than usual, allowing for players and staff members to pass the downtime by taking turns riding the horses.
“We play a game for a living,” Syndergaard said. “It’s supposed to be fun. You try to keep it light and relaxed. Spring training and the season can be pretty grueling. It’s a grind. So, it’s always fun to keep things loose.”
Longtime public relations man Jay Horwitz got on board, as did catcher Kevin Plawecki.
“I just had to jump on the opportunity,” Plawecki said.
Stony Brook native Steven Matz, who had not been on a horse since childhood, couldn’t pass up the chance to play out a childhod dream.
“Oh, I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy,” Matz said. “So, it was good.”
It’s been an active first Mets camp for Cespedes, who has used spring training to display his collection of exotic cars and express his love for country life.
Cespedes, who owns a ranch with cattle, horses and chickens, attended the St. Lucie County Fair on Saturday. He returned a day later and paid $7,000 to a local family for their grand champion hog.
And then came the horses.
“I have no problem with it,” Collins said. “Syndergaard put a helmet on. Tells you that the Texas stuff is not all that it’s made out to be.”
But for the first time, Collins also drew a hard line. While he has generally gone along with the carnival-like atmosphere at Mets camp, he made it clear on Tuesday that the tenor will change.
“He does his drills, he works hard, he’s getting ready to play,” Collins said of Cespedes. “He’s having a little fun for the time being. But like I said, it’s time to get ready for baseball now.”
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