With reports prior to Saturday’s doubleheader in Atlanta that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is still not 100 percent, the 31-year-old didn’t show it as he lifted a grand slam in the top of the ninth inning to all but secure the Mets 6-1 victory.
“I wouldn’t go out there to play if I knew that I could injure myself,” Cespedes said through a translator. “That’s why I went out there.”
In the first leg of Saturday’s match-up versus the Braves, Robert Gsellman kept the Mets in the game by a slim margin, but the offense couldn’t string anything substantial together through the first eight frames.
But the Braves biggest mistake was choosing to walk Michael Conforto to get to Cespedes who was appearing in his first game back after missing 37 contests.
Cespedes stepped up to the dish and promptly deposited a tater right over the left field fence at the brand spanking new SunTrust Park.
The six-year veteran finished the day going 2-for-5 at the plate and played the entirety of the matinee game in left field.
“It’s not easy for any ball player to miss that much time and still have the timing down,” Cespedes said. “In my case, I have been playing for lots of years, so I just try to stay calm and look for good pitches.”
It remains to be seen if he can be thrust right back into the lineup, but that decision will lie on Cespedes himself.
“Starting next week we’ll see if I feel 100 percent,” Cespedes said. “At that point I am not taking days off.”
In what was a day of great success from players returning from injury, Cespedes’ performance was a breath of fresh air and provided an overwhelming feeling of comfort.
Seeing Cespedes swing his stick and take one deep in his first game back brought fans back to 2015 when he carried the Mets on his back to their first World Series in a then-15 years.
“He showed us today he is a difference maker,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
And a difference maker he was. Regardless of the Mets being third in the National League in runs scored in the month of May, the presence of having Cespedes in the lineup alone is a huge boost for the Amazin’s as a whole.
It will be a day-by-day process for the slugger, but what we saw on Saturday was reminiscent of what we have seen time and time again from Cespedes, and hopefully, this will be a turning point yet again for what has been a beleaguered squad up to this point.