PORT ST. LUCIE — Yoenis Cespedes got off to a fast start Sunday. The Mets slugger teed up a three-run home run that cleared the left field fence by at least 30 feet Sunday. And then he made as fast of an exit, leaving before the game ended and declining to talk to reporters about his first game and homer of the year.
His bat spoke loud enough to new manager Mickey Callaway, however.
“It’s a presence. You make a mistake, you are going to pay,” Callaway said after watching Cespedes’ homer. “That ball was hit pretty good. Having a guy like that in your lineup changes the feeling, especially when you are the opposing pitching coach and pitchers.”
Cespedes, who missed 81 games last year with hamstring issues in both legs, went 2-for-3. He has committed himself to staying healthy this season with a different offseason workout and giving up golf, his favorite hobby. Sunday, at least, his legs looked healthy as he scored from first base in the first inning on Todd Frazier’s double.
A healthy Cespedes changes the Mets’ lineup completely. Callaway hit him second in Sunday’s game, a way to get veterans more at-bats in spring games, but he is also mulling leaving him there when the season starts.
“I’ve seen the numbers, the numbers make sense to me,” Callaway said of having his biggest power bat in the No. 2 spot. “The last couple of MVPs and guys getting MVP votes are batting second.”
FAMILIA FEELING FOR HIS SPLITTER
Jeurys Familia never got going last season. After serving a suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy, he had to undergo surgery to remove a blood clot in his right shoulder that had him out over three months.
So this spring, he’s feeling his way back. Familia is rediscovering the feel for his splitter.
“Trying to throw more my four-seamer and my splitter. That way I can throw some more in the season and use more of them,” Familia said.
“It was not working the same way it used to work, so right now I am trying to get my splitter back, what I am looking for.”
Familia threw a scoreless inning Sunday. He hit a batter and walked one.
GSELLMAN LOOSENING UP
Robert Gsellman credited offseason work loosening up his shoulder in helping him find more sink on his pitches this spring. The right-hander who struggled in 2017 after making an impressive debut in the second half of 2016, pitched two scoreless innings Sunday. He gave up one hit and struck out two of the seven hitters he faced.
“I felt good. You can always make better pitches,” Gsellman said after his spring debut. “I like the movement on my ball. It’s actually sinking this year.”
Gsellman returned to the physical therapist who helped him after surgery on his left shoulder after the 2016 season. He thinks the tightness in his shoulder contributed to his struggles in 2017.
Now, he thinks he is getting back to the pitcher that impressed the Mets in 2016.
“I am getting there. Getting back to there. Today was just the first time, throughout the spring hopefully I’ll get back to 2016, going out there and having fun,” Gsellman said.
Gsellman is pitching to stay on the major league roster this season. With a rotation already full, if healthy, Gsellman is likely headed to Triple-A to remain stretched out in case of emergency. But there are some in the organization who would like to see him work out of the bullpen.
ROTATION ROUNDING UP
Noah Syndergaard will make his spring debut on Monday, followed by Steven Matz on Tuesday, Matt Harvey on Wednesday and Jason Vargas on Thursday. Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland said they have not decided on who will pitch in the split squad games the Mets have on Friday. Jacob deGrom was just back on flat ground Sunday, throwing from 120 feet, and they have not set the date for his spring debut. The Mets planned to ease him into this spring because he pitched a career-high 201 inning last year. DeGrom returned to camp Saturday after three days at home as his wife gave birth to their second child.
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