The usual, media-defying Yoenis Cespedes showed up in full force at New York Mets camp… just in case anybody was wondering.
“Not today, not tomorrow, not all this year,” Cespedes said when in response to when he’ll speak to the media.
In this big market of New York, where the media looks for answers, Cespedes has never been accessible. So this was not out of the ordinary when he refused to answer a few questions down in Port St. Lucie.
The last time, more than a year ago, this was also nothing new. Cespedes, then, made a cameo appearance in the Mets’ clubhouse at Citi Field.
He was not available to talk then. His recovery from surgeries to remove calcification from both of his heels, a timetable for a return? We wanted to know.
We got nothing then. We got nothing Monday. This is Yoenis Cespedes, who has never been a media-friendly player in a major market with two MLB teams.
And for rookie manager, Luis Rojas? This will be a task, answering for Cespedes. Adjusting to his players, 14 in fact, is not an issue with the familiarity of the manager from the minor league system.
Rojas, and his familiarity with the roster, as the former quality control coach, makes the adjustment easier to handle.
Adjusting to Cespedes, the high-profiled player, will be a test, especially for Rojas, in the role of a player psychologist.
It won’t be easy. Ask anyone on the Mets beat. Getting access to Yoenis Cespedes and seeking the answers are as difficult as trying to understand an incident with a wild boar at his ranch.
“It’s a big day for him,” said Rojas. “He joined the guys and that’s where our focus is going to be with him. He’s being able to progress into playing at some point. We don’t have a timetable. That’s our focus right now.”
But we needed to hear from the player. So did Mets fans. They look at the two-time all-star, Yoenis Cespedes, as their player. The difference-maker, as he was, in late July of 2015, arriving in a trade from the Tigers for two minor leaguers. Cespedes, then, was a catalyst in the Mets run that got them to the World Series and came up short against the Kansas City Royals.
Since then, Cespedes hasn’t conjured up much, especially after signing a lucrative three-year, $75 million contract. A contract now that has been restructured, downsized to $10 million and with incentives in a final year.
What does Cespedes think about the restructure? We don’t know, because he won’t comment.
“I don’t want to,” Cespedes said when asked to comment. And from all indications, unless Cespedes needs to acclimate again, we will never get a response about the new contract and incidents with wild boars.
The Wilpons can’t be blamed. They pursued and signed the player, a free agent sort of a bust along the lines of Mo Vaughn and other bad contracts that arrived in Flushing.
So, don’t blame Fred and Jeff Wilpon here. They made the move, but it backfired. But Cespedes has to speak. Eventually, he will.
What’s more important is a healthy Yoenis Cespedes on the field. In the lineup, if productive, the Mets will be that much better and in the hunt for a division title or wild card spot.
But, Cespedes will never help his cause, especially with the media, if he refuses to face the music. More importantly, the responsibility to answer comes with being that big-time player in New York.
Over the years, Alex Rodriguez, amidst the controversy, would duck the media numerous times in a clubhouse across town in the Bronx with the Yankees.
We adjusted then; eventually, A-Rod would face the music, and in so many ways, that was worse with a steroid controversy. At the time, a complicated contract, highest in the game, made it more difficult to get the answers.
However, through it all, Cespedes is no Rodriguez. One World Series with the Mets, that was Cespedes. Production on the field, well, that came from A-Rod and a 2009 World Series for the Yankees.
But the mood and character of the players are very similar in a city of New York that expects a high-profiled player to live up to the contract and face the music, either good or bad.
Opening Day is just five weeks away at Citi Field. Will Yoenis Cespedes be in the Mets starting lineup or come off the bench?
Not today, not tomorrow, not all year is not what we want to hear.