Céspedes arrives at spring training as silent as his bat

BILL WHITEHEAD (Associated Press)
The Associated Press
FILE - In this July 20, 2018, file photo, New York Mets' Yoenis Cespedes stretches before the team's baseball game against the New York Yankees in New York. Its been a bizarre offseason for the Mets even by their standards. They dumped two different managers, cut Cespedes salary, and ownership took a swing at selling a controlling share of the franchise before the proposed deal collapsed. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
FILE - In this July 20, 2018, file photo, New York Mets' Yoenis Cespedes stretches before the team's baseball game against the New York Yankees in New York. Its been a bizarre offseason for the Mets even by their standards. They dumped two different managers, cut Cespedes salary, and ownership took a swing at selling a controlling share of the franchise before the proposed deal collapsed. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- Yoenis Céspedes arrived at spring training and was as silent as his bat has been for most of the past two seasons.

The New York Mets outfielder stepped back toward his locker as the media approached before the team's first full-squad workout on Monday and said, “Not today, not tomorrow, not at all this year” when asked if he would talk.

A two-time All-Star, Céspedes said he felt no obligation to speak with the media. “Because I don’t want to,” he explained.

Asked whether he would speak to his fans, he replied: “To my fans, maybe."

Céspedes turned his back to media, spritzed cologne on and forcefully put the bottle down in his locker.

Céspedes hit and ran but did not break with the outfielders as the horn sounded for the fielders to break into two groups when the Mets took the field for the first time in spring training.

Against reliever Michael Wacha in batting practice, Céspedes turned on a curve and drove it just left of the foul pole in left field - with home-run distance - for his best swing of the session.

“This is a big day for him,” new manager Luis Rojas said. “He’s locked in on his progression. He looked good running today. He’s able to do fielding drills right now. ... Going back to the timing when he saw Wacha, he looked good – almost like he hasn’t missed a beat.”

The 34-year-old Céspedes won a Gold Glove in 2015 and a Silver Slugger the following year. He has played in only 119 games in the first three seasons of a $110 million, four-year contract, just 38 since the end of the 2017 season.

He was out for much of 2017 with hamstring strains, then missed more than two months in 2018 due to a strained hip flexor. He homered at Yankee Stadium in his return, then went back on the DL and had surgery to remove bone calcification from his right heel on Aug. 2, 2018, and his left that Oct. 26.

While recovering from surgery on his heels last May, Céspedes fractured his right ankle in multiple places in an accident at his ranch just west of the Mets’ training complex. He and the Mets agreed in December to an amended contract that cut his base salary from $29.5 million to $6 million. He would raise his pay to $11 million if he has one active day on the major league roster and to $20 million if he has 650 plate appearances - a figure he has reached just once.

NOTES: While OF Michael Conforto hit numerous homers, including a shot off Wacha that hit the top half of the batter’s eye, SS Amed Rosario may have hit the longest drive. “I’m not out there trying to be a power hitter or anything. I think every offseason I go in with a plan to get at least a little bit better at everything,” Rosario said through translator Alan Suriel. … Rojas said Cespedes, INF Jed Lowrie and RHP Dellin Betances will be monitored by the performance staff, who will determine their playing time. … Lowrie, who had just seven plate appearances last season, practiced with a brace on his left leg that Rojas said “makes him feel like himself."

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