In retrospect, maybe the Mets could have used a mulligan.

One day after Yoenis Cespedes landed on the disabled list just hours after hitting the links with MLB Network personality Kevin Millar, general manager Sandy Alderson admitted yesterday that the timing made for poor “optics.”

He also acknowledged that the Mets should have placed Cespedes on the DL sooner rather than making a monthlong and ultimately futile exercise of coaxing production out of a compromised player.

Said Alderson: “In retrospect, it’s probable that we should have just put him on the DL at the beginning of this episode, which is generally true with most injuries, unfortunately.”

Still, Terry Collins launched into a fiery defense of indulging Cespedes’ desire to keep playing both baseball and golf. The manager insisted that the slugger’s morning round had nothing to do with his right quadriceps finally giving out near the end of the Mets’ 9-5 loss to the Yankees later in the night.

“You guys all try to draw a connection,” said Collins, who became uncharacteristically agitated. “What if he went fishing? I mean, what the hell? Golfing had nothing to do with his leg. His leg has been bothering him. Last night it bothered him even more. We made a decision it was time to put him on the DL.”

Alderson was in lockstep with Collins, asserting that team doctors found no link between Cespedes’ injury and golf. But the GM didn’t serve up a free pass.

“The golf is bad optics, let’s just start there,” he said. “Our doctors have told us that it probably had no impact on the injury, positive or negative. But let’s face it, if you play golf during the day and then go out injured in the evening, it’s a bad visual. And I think he recognizes that at this point, so we’ll go from there.”

It seems that recognition also has turned into action, with the Mets and Cespedes’ representatives agreeing that he should keep the clubs in the trunk, at least until his leg is fully healed.

The timing of Cespedes’ injury left him open to criticism, especially after playing golf with a leg that has been injured for a month. But Alderson noted that Cespedes “made a month’s worth of effort to try and play through it, and I don’t think we can lose sight of that fact.” He also maintained that despite the potential appearance that Cespedes’ attention is elsewhere, winning the World Series remains a serious goal.

“Everybody is taking it seriously. I think Yoenis takes it seriously,” Alderson said. “But Yoenis has his own personal life that sometimes is larger than life. We’ve seen that from the beginning of spring training.”

Indeed, Cespedes caused a stir when he paraded his collection of exotic cars, brought in horses from his nearby ranch and then served a prized hog that he purchased from the St. Lucie County Fair.

When healthy, Cespedes has enjoyed a brilliant season, hitting .292 with 22 homers and 59 RBIs. With their postseason hopes teetering, the Mets could not afford to shelve Cespedes, who insisted on staying off the DL.

Collins said the Mets did not consider putting Cespedes on the disabled list on July 7, when he first suffered the injury, “because he wasn’t hurt that bad.”

“He didn’t complain about it,” Collins said. “He could still run. We played him a lot of days in the outfield. We played him a lot of days he played just fine.”

It’s unclear how long Cespedes will be out, though the Mets caught one break: Playing through the injury seemingly did nothing to make it worse.

“The MRI that was done today,” Alderson said, “didn’t show any further deterioration from the MRI that was taken a month ago. So I think that’s encouraging, the fact that he’s continued to play off and on and not suffered any additional damage. So that may bode well for us over the next two weeks.”