New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes last stepped on to a MLB field two years ago this week. Cespedes missed almost a year of action after he was sidelined due to a surgery performed on both heels to address bone spurs. He was expected to return to the Mets for a portion of 2019, but that got derailed when Cespedes suffered a fractured ankle in a scary encounter with a wild boar. Cespedes returned to action for the 2020 MLB season opener in exciting style blasting a game-winning home run and making history in the process.
Yoenis Cespedes and his injury-riddled career
Yoenis Cespedes made an impressive debut his rookie season with the Oakland A’s. In that 2012 campaign, he finished the season with a .292 average, blasted 23 home runs, and had 82 RBIs. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting.
After another season in Oakland, where he delivered 26 home runs, Cespedes split time between Oakland and Boston in 2014, where he made his first All-Star appearance and hit 22 home runs and drove in 100 RBIs. He spent part of the 2015 season in Detroit before making the move to New York, where he has been a fixture in the outfield since.
In 2016, Cespedes had his best season with the Mets making his second All-Star game. He finished the year with a .280 average and hit 31 home runs and drove in 86 RBIs. He also earned his first Silver Slugger Award.
Cespedes gets new deal and gets injured
Following his solid 2016 season, the Mets rewarded Yoenis Cespedes by signing him to a four-year, $110 million contract. Since that time, New York has not received a good return on its investment. Unfortunately, the now-34-year-old has been hampered by injuries.
It started early in the 2017 season when Cespedes suffered a hamstring injury. A quad strain and hip flexor followed. All of them combined resulted in the outfielder missing large chunks of the season. In 2018, doctors discovered the source of his leg injuries and identified it as calcification in his heels. This caused him to alter his running style, which in turn, created the problems.
In July 2018, Cespedes underwent surgery on both heels to correct the issue. He was expected to miss 8-10 months, which meant there was a possibility of a return sometime in the 2019 season. Up until that point, he had appeared in just 119 games since signing his big contract.
Yoenis Cespedes battles wild boar and loses
In May 2019, as Yoenis Cespedes continued his rehab and recovered from his surgery at home in Port St. Lucie Florida, he suffered a major setback. According to the New York Post, Cespedes had a frightening encounter with a wild boar on his ranch.
The report indicated that Cespedes has multiple traps set up around his ranch to keep boars away from people. At one point, a boar was removed from a trap and charged at him or startled him, which caused him to step in a hole and fracture his ankle. That injury ended any potential return for the 2019 season. It also resulted in Cespedes taking a huge cut in pay.
After officials from the Mets, Commissioners Office, and Players Association visited the ranch to confirm details of the incident were as Cespedes reported, the team and Cespedes began working on an amended contract. In December, the Mets reduced his base salary from $25.9 million to $6 million annually. If he reaches 650 plate appearances in 2020, his pay could increase to $20 million.
In the season opener at Citi Field, Yoenis Cespedes made his first return to action in two years a memorable and history-making moment. In the bottom of the seventh, he delivered a 406-foot blast into the left-field seats off Atlanta Braves pitcher Chris Martin that was the deciding run in a 1-0 win.
The Cespedes home run was also historic because it was the first by a National League batter with the new universal designated hitter rule in place for 2020. It’s been a long road back for Cespedes the last two seasons. Based on his start, it could be a season to remember, as long as he stays clear of his ranch and any more encounters with wild boars.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.