Cespedes also did some defensive drills, including fly-ball practice, although the coaches were careful to send the balls so that he only ran straight to catch them. Known for his strong arm, Cespedes threw from the outfield to home plate this week, according to Rojas.
“That’s big news for us,” the manager said.
Cespedes also showed traces of his slugging self throughout the week — after a few stumbles early on. His bat went flying on Monday during batting practice, his first time facing live pitching. By Tuesday, though, he was hitting multiple balls over the fence, much to the delight of the crowd on hand. After, Cespedes made an effort to sign autographs and take pictures with fans.
On Thursday he got a line drive off Jacob deGrom, the reigning two-time Cy Young Award winner in the National League. That made deGrom smirk and shake his head, and the two joked about it together after the session.
“What he does on the field is special when he’s healthy,” outfielder Michael Conforto said of Cespedes. “I think you can see how happy everyone is to have him back just purely by that exchange.”
If he can return to top form, Cespedes could add power to the Mets’ offense. His performance in 2015, when he spent the first half of the season with Detroit before we was traded to the Mets, included a batting average of .291, 35 home runs, 42 doubles and 105 R.B.I. He followed that up in 2016 with a .280 batting average, 31 home runs, 25 doubles and 86 R.B.I.
Cespedes was not expected to play in either of the Mets’ split squad games on Saturday, and Rojas said there was no timetable for when he would be at full strength.
“You can feel that when it’s time, he’s going to cause great impact,” Rojas said, adding, “I’m really looking forward to that.”