PITTSBURGH — At least the clock is starting. Yoenis Cespedes was scheduled to play in his first minor league rehab game Friday night. He was batting third and playing left field for the Class-A St. Lucie Mets.
Cespedes has been on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring since April 28. Position players are allowed to be on rehab assignment in the minors for 20 days, but it is expected to be a much shorter assignment for the Mets’ slugger.
Sources said they expect him back early next week, as soon as Monday, but first the Mets want to see Cespedes, who was reportedly reluctant to play in a rehab game, test out the leg playing in the outfield.
The Mets need to be cautious with their $110 million outfielder. He’s had a history of leg issues, missing 14 games on the disabled list with a right quad issue last season.
After feeling what he described as a “shock” in his left hamstring running the bases on April 20, Cespedes was rested three games. He pulled up with the strained hamstring in his second game back.
The uproar about the decision to put him back in the games after the initial warning sign was one of the black eyes the Mets took over their handling of their injuries this season. The other shoe fell with Noah Syndergaard refusing an MRI after feeling an issue in his biceps and going out and tearing a right lat muscle in his next appearance.
Because of the injuries to their high-profile players, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said the organization was re-evaluating how they handled the issues.
After backing up their medical personnel, the team has apparently decided that tightening up what information they release on injuries will somehow help.
Lefthander Steven Matz and righthander Seth Lugo will make their second official rehab starts on Sunday, the team announced.
Matz, who has been on the DL since Opening Day with elbow discomfort, will start for Triple-A Las Vegas. The team said that their doctors found no structural issue with his elbow, but Matz said a second opinion disclosed a flexor tendon strain. Matz, who has spent significant time on the DL in each of his three major league seasons, had surgery to remove a bone spur last winter after being shut down last August with a shoulder issue.
Lugo, who is trying to avoid Tommy John surgery through therapy and a throwing program, will start in Double-A Binghamton. He was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament on Opening Day.