Already facing a crossroads in what has been a cursed season, the Mets gave in to what has long seemed inevitable. They will send slugger Yoenis Cespedes to the disabled list Thursday with a strained right quad that has plagued him for nearly a month.
“It’s been frustrating, because I’ve lost my timing, I’ve lost my games, and I haven’t been able to contribute to the ballclub,” said Cespedes, who capped an ugly 9-5 loss to the Yankees Wednesday aggravating the quad on the second swing of his final at-bat.
Brandon Nimmo has been summoned from Triple-A Las Vegas to take the spot of Cespedes, who has the highest average (.292) and most homers (22) and RBIs (59) for the Mets.
“The best option is just rest, about 10 days or so, because if I continue playing hurt I’m never going to recover,” said Cespedes, whose playing time had been limited in the Mets’ attempt to avoid sending him to the disabled list.
Now, with the Mets clinging to their postseason chances at 55-52, they will be without their transformational star.
Despite not being 100 percent, Cespedes had not been placed on the DL because of he long-standing policy of the Sandy Alderson administration: offense first.
It’s why until noon on Monday, the Mets believed they had a chance to land both Jay Bruce and Jonathon Lucroy before the nonwaiver trade deadline. It’s why the Mets gladly acquired Bruce, even if his presence further complicated a muddled situation in the outfield.
Despite all these concessions, the Mets find themselves fighting the same demons, squandering plenty of opportunities in Wednesday’s loss.
Said Alderson: “We have to move some things around and try to get a little more offense.”
Curtis Granderson led off the game with a homer. But after the Mets followed by loading the bases with nobody out, they scored just once more in the inning. They repeated the feat in the seventh, the first three baserunners reaching with only one scoring on a groundout.
Bruce took the first shot. He had been traded from the Reds with a .360 average with runners in scoring position. But he struck out looking and finished 0-for-4 with a walk. In his first two games as a Met, the three-time all-star is 0-for-8.
The Mets entered the day averaging only 3.71 runs per game, 13th in the National League. They can ill afford then absence of Cespedes.
Yesterday, Cespedes felt well enough to golf before the game with former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar, who shared a photo of the duo on social media. Terry Collins brushed off the optics of the star player golfing despite being on the brink of a stint on the disabled list.
“Was he running on the course or was he walking?” the manager said. “Did he ride on the cart or was he jogging? No, I don’t have any problem with it, no.”
Bruce’s arrival may bolster the lineup but it does little for the outfield alignment. A rightfielder, he has little experience in center, though he, too may be forced into action there.
“The problem is scoring runs,” Alderson said. “So if we have to sacrifice and the defense causes our ERA to go up a tenth of a point or what have you, hey, you’ve got to go for it. We want to try to get better.”
For one more night, however, it was more of the same.