Céspedes Breaks Silence, Says He Hopes To Play Opening Day

Ed Coleman
February 23, 2020 - 6:15 pm
Yoenis Cespedes

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

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It didn't last a week.  Last Monday, Yoenis Cespedes stated  "Not today.  Not tomorrow.  Not at all this year", when asked whether he would speak to the media that day.  On Sunday, after some urging from Robinson Cano, Cespedes finally spoke, saying that he wouldn't talk about the past, he committed an error, he paid the price for it (in terms of a reduced contract), but would talk about the present and the future.

So Yo, how are you feeling?  "I feel good", Cespedes said.  "I'm happy with the progress.  Every day I'm working to get better and better.  It's not as fast as I want it to be, but as the season approaches I'm feeling like I'm really good right now."  Could he see himself being ready for Opening Day March 26?  "If I continue progressing the way that I am, yes."

Related: Ed Coleman's Notes From Spring: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly From Mets Camp

Cespedes has to continue his running program.  Right now, he is running in zig zags, but not running at angles which is more akin to running the bases.  He believes he's at about 80% running ability at the moment, but defensively he thinks he's 90-95% there which is a good sign.  Cespedes, even with considerable time away from the game the last two seasons,  has still shown a keen eye at the plate and the ability to drive the ball when taking part in live batting practice here in Port St. Lucie.  He said that since September, he's been waking up at 5 A.M. every day to make treatments and do his rehab in order to help the team.

Cespedes believes when his legs are finally right, he'll be back to his pre-injury self.  "If my legs are healthy",  the slugger said, "I'll be fine.  It's all dependent on my legs.  When it comes to hitting, that's one of the things I'm not worried about.  That's one of the skills that you never forget."  But playing the outfield is something that concerns the Mets for a player who is trying to overcome double heel surgery as well as surgery on a fractured ankle suffered by stepping in a hole trying to avoid a wild boar on his Florida ranch.  Can't make it up.

Rehabbing both heels has been tougher for Cespedes than the ankle.  He said the ankle was able to heal up "within two months, but with the heels, the ankle tendon got a little bit weak and a little stiff too, so it was important to strengthen that during the rehab".  But that fractured ankle and the circumstances surrounding it cost Cespedes a lot of money, so money is a motivating factor for him.  But the bigger motivation, says Cespedes, "is the people who've been out there and have been saying that I can't do it.  So I'm going out to prove that I can."

Cespedes was asked on a scale of 1-10 how motivated was he to succeed this season?  His reply?  "12".  He feels by the middle of March he'll be ready to take part in spring training games.  Bet he'll be talking then too.