MIAMI — Yoenis Cespedes’ first 1 ½ years with the Mets meant consecutive postseason appearances, but the All-Star outfielder is now experiencing life on the other side.
With his team buried in both the NL East and wild-card races, Cespedes — who returned to the Mets last winter on a four-year contract worth $110 million — is philosophical about the situation: Sometimes you lose.
“I can’t say that it feels good, but I think as athletes and as people we just have to be aware that along the way there is going to be rough patches, bad moments,” Cespedes, in a rare interview, said through an interpreter before the Mets’ 6-3 loss to the Marlins. “Our goal is to figure out how to get out of something like this.”
To Cespedes, this team slump is hardly a surprise given the list of marquee names that have been absent for significant stretches, including Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia and himself.
“There’s been injuries to the fundamental pieces of this team and some are still injured, so if you look at it that way, I guess it’s not too surprising we are where we are,” said Cespedes, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
The Mets entered with a three-game winning streak, but after Tuesday’s loss, they are eight games below .500 and trail the Nationals by 11 ½ games in the division.
Cespedes entered the night with a strong .315/.384/.631 slash line, with nine homers and 19 RBIs, but his first half of the season has been more defined by the six weeks he missed recovering from a strained left hamstring than his production.
Last year Cespedes battled discomfort in his right quadriceps for much of the second half and spent two weeks on the DL in August before returning to help lead a 27-13 charge that culminated with a NL wild-card berth.
“It’s frustrating,” Cespedes said of his leg problems. “At this point it has happened a few times and I know how it feels when it’s happening, but I think the most frustrating part of it all is I do the best I can preparing in the offseason and spring training and I think I have put it past me and it happens, so that is very frustrating.”
Now Cespedes will prepare to face a second half in which the Mets could emerge as sellers on the market in an attempt to obtain pieces for potential free agents such as Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, Asdrubal Cabrera and Addison Reed, among others.
“That would be hard, because the guys that are here, you build relationships with them, you have been with them for awhile,” Cespedes said. “But I really learned after my first trade from Oakland that this is just a business and one day you’re here and the next day they send you somewhere else, so for me particularly I am aware of that.”
But even if the Mets don’t recover this season, Cespedes sees no reason for gloom heading to 2018 and beyond. Much of that optimism stems from a rotation — provided it can stay healthy — still very much in its prime and prospects such as Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith who are expected to arrive and replenish the infield.
“There is an old saying that I go by: When there is pitching there is no hitting,” Cespedes said. “And I think this team obviously has incredible pitchers, young guys that are high quality, I think everybody knows that. I think that we have some guys on the team that can really hit — not just this team, but in the minor leagues we have some guys coming up, too. If those guys come up, in the next two to three years, I think we have a good team here.”