Posted on June 10, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
After spending more than a month on the DL, Yoenis Cespedes is finally returning to the New York Mets. The Mets plan to activate Cespedes from the 10-day DL on Saturday, in time for him to play in a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves. The return of Cespedes is not a moment too soon for the Mets, who have struggled amidst a string of injuries all season.
Cespedes has been on the DL since the end of April with a strained hamstring. The Mets were initially hopeful that it would be a short-term injury. However, Cespedes has ended up missing more than six weeks. During his road back from injury, Cespedes experienced a minor setback in his calf, which extended his DL stint even more. In the 18 games he played before the injury, Cespedes hit .270 with six home runs, helping give him an OPS of .992, exemplifying his importance to the Mets.
Before being activated, Cespedes played in just two minor league rehab games, and one of those came before his setback with his calf. Cespedes was 0 for 4 in a rehab game on Thursday. But after Cespedes came out of that game feeling healthy, the Mets believe he’s ready to return.
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“He accumulated a lot of at-bats even though he hadn’t been in games,” Mets manager Terry Collins said Friday. “We think he’s ready.”
The Mets will undoubtedly be ecstatic to get Cespedes back from the DL. However, his return does create a dilemma for Collins with regard to the team’s outfield. Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson, and Jay Bruce have all been playing just about every day over the past six weeks, but now one of them will have to make way when Cespedes returns.
Conforto began the season as the odd man out in New York’s outfield. But he’s been the everyday left fielder for the Mets since Cespedes went to the DL. He’s also been the team’s best hitter during that time, hitting .303 with an OPS of 1.032. Cespedes will supplant Conforto in left field, but there’s no way that Collins can take Conforto out of the lineup altogether.
Bruce has also proven to be nearly indispensable for the Mets this season. After a poor start to his tenure with the Mets last fall, Bruce has been the team’s second best hitter behind Conforto this season. He leads the Mets in both home runs and RBIs and will likely hit behind Cespedes to help provide some protection.
That could leave the 36-year old Granderson as the odd man out. Granderson had a dreadful April, hitting just .128. But even after heating up in May, he’s still struggling to keep his batting average over .200. Based on his performance this season, it’s hard to imagine Granderson getting much playing time over the trio of Cespedes, Conforto, and Bruce, even if it forces Conforto to play center field. However, Collins says he’s not yet ready to sit Granderson on a full-time basis.
“We’ll flip-flop and move guys around and get everybody some playing time,” Collins said. “Right now we’ll be a little careful with Cespedes. We have to work him back in.”
Even if it takes some time for Cespedes to find his rhythm at the plate, the Mets will be glad to have him back after an extended absence. Scoring runs hasn’t been the team’s biggest problem this season, but getting Cespedes back will certainly give the Mets a boost. The Mets are in desperate need of a winning streak to help get them back in contention, and they can only hope that Cespedes provides the spark they need to make that happen.