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Motivated Yoenis Cespedes hints at Opening Day return for Mets

Yoenis Cespedes. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Yoenis Cespedes’ media silence didn’t last too long as the motivated Mets’ outfielder forecasted a big 2020 season on Sunday. 

Last Monday saw the 34-year-old tell reporters that he wouldn’t talk “today, not tomorrow, not at all this year,” after he missed the entire 2019 season due to a fractured ankle suffered during a run-in with a wild board on his Florida ranch. 

“I committed an error and I paid the price for it,” Céspedes said Sunday. “But today I’ll be talking about the present and the future.”

The Mets won a grievance this winter that cut Cespedes’ 2020 contract from $29 million to $6 million plus incentives after three injury-riddled seasons. 

Since the start of the 2017 season, he has appeared in just 119 regular-season games. 

While the Mets haven’t committed to assuming Cespedes will be back for a majority of the 2020 season, the slugger admitted that if his rehab continues at its current pace, he’ll be able to take part in mid-March spring training games and would be ready for Opening Day. 

It’s not the first time he’s hinted at playing close to a full season, either, as he claimed back in December that he would play in 140-plus games and hit 52 home runs

When asked on Sunday how motivated he was on a scale of one-to-10, Cespedes said “twelve,” as he has plenty to prove. 

After his torrid half-season that helped the Mets win the National League pennant in 2015, Cespedes still put up promising numbers despite an inability to stay on the field. 

From 2016-2018, he posted 162-game averages of 37 home runs and 102 RBI while slashing .281/.349/.528. 

But Cespedes will be entering a much more different looking team than the one he left mid-season in 2018, which will add further motivation to his pursuit of re-securing his spot in left field.

New York’s offensive depth has improved ten-fold in recent years. JD Davis and Jeff McNeil — who spent time in Cespedes’ left field last year — have emerged as two of the organization’s most pure hitters while the improving Dominic Smith was forced to head to the outfield as well with Pete Alonso taking over at first base. 

McNeil could very well be the Opening Day third baseman but Davis and Smith will be in the mix for time in left to make sure they get enough at-bats in 2020. 

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