Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has only been in the news for injuries -- and his related -- in the past few years, but this spring he's making progress on the field. Sunday morning at Mets camp, Cespedes held a press conference to talk about his availability for the upcoming season.
There's a clip here via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, and juiciest part was when Cespedes talked about his chances of being ready to play on Opening Day.
"If I continue progressing the way that I am," Cespedes said through his interpreter, "yes."
There's also this:
Céspedes was asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, how motivated he is to succeed this season.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 23, 2020
Without hesitation, he answered in English: "Twelve."
Just a few days ago, Cespedes said he wouldn't be speaking with the media during spring training, so something changed. Perhaps this lines up with Cespedes having had a good few days and now being in better spirits?
Regardless, this has to qualify as good news with him shooting for the start of the regular season.
Cespedes is now 34 but there's every reason to believe he's still going to be an offensive force if he's healthy. The latter part is the question. He last played a full season since 2015. In 2016, he dealt with a quad injury and played in 132 games. He played just a half season (81 games) in 2017 as he was hampered with hamstring and hip injuries throughout that campaign.
Then came the real problems.
After just 38 games in 2018, Cespedes needed surgery in both heels and it cost him the rest of the season. Then there was the fractured ankle on his ranch before he was even ready to return from injury last season. He did not play at all in 2019.
All told, Cespedes has played in 38 games since Aug. 25, 2017, one since May 13, 2018 and none since July 20, 2018.
As noted, if he can manage to play, the smart money is on him hitting. He slashed .292/.352/.540 (135 OPS+) with 17 homers in his half-season in 2017. Even when he came back for that one game in 2018 (July 20), he went 2 for 4 with a home run. Consistency might be a problem, sure, but his upside is huge.
As for where he fits with the Mets, they surely can't count on him as an everyday player. They head to the season with J.D. Davis in left field, Brandon Nimmo in center and Michael Conforto in right with Jake Marisnick as the fourth outfielder. Anything Cespedes can provide is gravy.
It's easy for Mets fans to dream of a healthy and productive Cesepedes joining Nimmo and Conforto most days in the outfield by the end of the season, though. That would be one of the best outfields in the league.