Yoenis Cespedes was kept out of the lineup on Thursday afternoon against the Rockies, and it wasn’t just to get him some rest after a night game.
Mets manager Terry Collins said it was mixed with that and and the lingering issues around his quad injury.
The quad injury flared up during Wednesday night’s loss to St. Louis, in which Cespedes went 2-for-4, including the big two-run homer in the seventh inning.
“Last night, he came in when the game was over,” Collins said on Thursday morning, “And he said it’s starting to bother him pretty bad and said ‘hey, my leg’s pretty sore tonight.’ So I said, ‘we gotta get you a day.’ Unfortunately, it’s a day against a lefty (Rockies starter Tyler Anderson), but that’s just the way it is. You know, day game after a night game, we’ve got to do the best we can to get him into the lineup.”
Collins said his issues with the quad injury “could stretch on” for a while.
Cespedes suffered the injury while running after a Daniel Murphy fly ball at the warning track on July 8. It cost him two games before the break, playing in the All-Star Game, and the first two games out of the break.
Though he is back in the lineup, he is not 100 percent, and the way quad injuries are, it’s questionable if he will be back to full strength at all the rest of the way.
“That may be the case, but that’s one of the reasons why we moved him to left field, to try to keep him from running too much” Collins said of this injury continuing to flare up. “You know, we’ve got some games coming up this week where we’ve got the DH. There’s a good chance we can get him off his feet in the outfield during those games.”
Collins is referring to the two at Yankee Stadium next Wednesday and Thursday and the three in Detroit the following weekend.
This is already a Mets team that is playing without power bats David Wright and Lucas Duda. The last thing they want to conceive of is life without Cespedes.
“He’s a big piece, he’s a huge piece,” Collins said of the power hitter acquired a year ago this week. “You look at what he’s done, and you take those home runs (22) and those RBIs (58) out of the middle of our lineup, and it’s tough to replace it. Even with a guy like (Flores), he’s going to hit third today against this lefty, but that’s still big shoes to fill.”
Flores is hitting .333 with seven home runs and 13 RBI in July.
Alejandro De Aza took Cespedes’ spot in left field on Thursday, and he has played better in July, taking advantage of increased time in the lineup.
De Aza is hitting .333 in July, with one home run, and six runs scored in 19 games after hitting .158 (15-95) with four doubles and one hoe run in 52 games from April to June.
“I think a lot of it is due to the fact that he’s playing a little bit more, but I think it’s also, and I’ve said it so many times, these guys at this level, you know, they don’t like to be embarrassed and they’ve got great pride in what they do,” Collins said of De Aza stepping it up. “I know that Alejandro has not been happy with the way he’s played, certainly on the offensive side, and he’s worked very hard with Kevin (Long) and Pat (Roessler) in the cages to try to get his swing. He’s always taking extra BP and I think it’s starting to pay off, along with the fact that he’s getting in there a little bit more. I thought, certainly, in the last three weeks, he’s had very, very good at-bats. I don’t care left or right, he’s put some very good at-bats on.”
The trade deadline on Monday is fast approaching, and the question is whether Mets general manager Sandy Alderson will deal for an outfielder with uncertainty around Cespedes.
“I knew that was coming today!” Collins said while laughing. “Again, as you guys know, that’s not my territory. I am not the kind of guy or manager that I’ve ever gone to the general manager and say, ‘hey, we need help.’ He’s got a very good feel for our team and what’s going on. He’s the best in the business at making the right move at the right time.
“All I can tell you is, you know, we can’t lose Yoenis Cespedes for a real long period of time, and that’s why, even though he’d be a huge piece of the puzzle today, I can’t afford to lose him today.
“As we move forward, I think that the DH time will help him, because that’s a pretty lengthy period of time that we can keep him off his legs in the outfield, and I hope by the end of that time, as we finish the season, that he can physically get out there.”