Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

All within His Wheelhouse?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

All within His Wheelhouse?

Article excerpt

Cespedes is planning to run the table at Citi Field - he's not going anywhere from here until retirement. That's great news for the Mets, who were smart enough to know who's been their most bankable asset since 2015.

It was nearly a year ago when a Mets official stood in a back field in the club's spring training complex, shooting a worried glance in Yoenis Cespedes' direction. a(TM)[broken bar] "I don't know if there was a family issue or personal issue over the winter, but (Cespedes) looks a little heavy to me," the official said. "He's not in the kind of shape we expected." a(TM)[broken bar] This was no criticism of the team's best hitter, just an ominous observation that proved prophetic. Even though he slugged 31 HRs, Cespedes was ultimately hobbled by a slow-healing quadriceps strain, the effects of which he hid even from teammates. a(TM)[broken bar] "I am the only one who knew how much pain I was in," Cespedes told the New York Post the other day. "I was trying to mask it, trying to play through it and do as much as I could to help the team."

Cespedes insists the leg injury is behind him, as are the other obstacles that've complicated a five-year career in the big leagues. Today Cespedes is at peace: he will earn $110 million through 2020, but even more importantly has a no-trade clause that'll finally settle his nerves. After playing for four teams in his first five seasons in the majors, Cespedes hated his life as a rental.

A Cuban refugee separated from his family, he was living in a foreign country with virtually no English. Cespedes didn't make many friends with the A's, Red Sox and Tigers. He didn't stay in any one place long enough to put down roots.

Yet, Cespedes' love for baseball never waned; it's what kept him sane. All that was missing was peace of mind, not worrying about the next trade, the next new clubhouse that was full of strangers, the next fan-base. More strangers. Instead, Cespedes is planning to run the table at Citi Field - he's not going anywhere from here until retirement. That's great news for the Mets, who were smart enough to know who's been their most bankable asset since 2015.

But for Cespedes, crossing one finish line represents the starter's gun on another challenge: staying motivated and proving the Mets made the right call with that long-term deal. While executives from both leagues agree on Cespedes' athletic prowess and that explosive bat-speed, they aren't afraid to say it'll be no small chore for Terry Collins to keep his biggest star hungry.

As one high-ranking official said recently, "I've always thought Cespedes needed some kind of carrot in front of him. He's always needed that edge. Will he still have it? I don't know."

The Mets didn't entirely disagree. They were loath to the idea of giving Cespedes any more than a four-year contract this off-season. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.