It’s been nearly two years since Yoenis Cespedes last logged an MLB at-bat. Between heel surgery and a broken ankle (the result of a boar encounter gone awry), some doubted whether we’d ever see the two-time All-Star back in the Citi Field batter’s box. But after having the last few months to get up to speed amid the league’s coronavirus shutdown, the 34-year-old Cuban outfielder looks healthy as ever, swatting tape-measure home runs at Mets training camp while even getting some exploratory reps at first base.
Cespedes, who is headed into the final year of his $110-million contract, confirmed Saturday that he’ll indeed be ready when the Mets open their 2020 campaign against the division-rival Atlanta Braves on July 24. “I know for certain that I will be ready,” confirmed Cespedes, who is expected to serve as New York’s Opening Day DH. “I’m very excited for the season to start in two weeks.”
While it’s unlikely he’ll occupy an everyday role after so much missed time, having Cespedes back in any capacity should be a huge boost for the Mets, who finished three games out of playoff position in the National League Wild Card last season, which was quite an accomplishment after getting off to a sluggish 40-51 start. Only time will tell how much the veteran slugger has left in his MLB tank, though Cespedes has been an early standout at Mets camp, demonstrating his elite power by routinely swatting goliath blasts into the Citi Field bleachers.
The Mets will have their work cut out for them competing against the likes of Atlanta, Washington and Philadelphia in an ultra-competitive National League East. Robinson Cano’s uncertain status and the loss of All-Star Noah Syndergaard to Tommy John surgery won’t make their task any easier. But the pieces are still in place with two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom and reigning home-run champ and National League Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso both at New York’s disposal. Sprinkle in a dash of Cespedes and the Mets could be a team to keep an eye on in 2020.