ATLANTA -- First Yoenis Cespedes came walking through the Turner Field clubhouse doors, looking sprightly and ready to play. Some hours later, Noah Syndergaard was scheduled to join Cespedes and the Mets, who received fine news late Wednesday night on both star players.
Syndergaard, whose MRI revealed nothing more than right elbow inflammation, will start as scheduled Monday against the Nationals. And Cespedes, who has a mild left wrist sprain, could return to the starting lineup as soon as Friday.
"I was very relieved," manager Terry Collins said. "I know they're tough guys. The one thing they don't want to be accused of is every time there's a little something wrong, coming in and saying, 'Hey look, my arm [hurts].' But that's OK. That's part of their job."
Though plenty of public panic surrounded Syndergaard's elbow flare-up, Collins said he was less concerned about that because of the right-hander's years-long battle with recurrent soreness. Though obviously relieved, the manager was not particularly surprised when Syndergaard came away from team orthopedist Dr. David Altchek's office with a relatively clean bill of health.
"When it comes to elbows, I really don't like to screw around with those," Syndergaard said. "If it's bothering you, I like to speak up and voice my opinion about it. It turned out to be nothing, and I couldn't be more thankful for that."
More concerning to Collins was the status of Cespedes, who rarely complains of injuries. So the manager was thrilled to learn that his starting center fielder would be able to play within 24 hours of receiving a cortisone shot. That technically made Cespedes available for Thursday's series opener at Turner Field, but the Mets planned to shy away from using him in any capacity, giving the cortisone a longer period to work.
In 65 games this season, the likely All-Star is batting .290 with a team-leading 18 home runs and 44 RBIs.
"Right now I'm ready to play," Cespedes said through an interpreter, adding that his left wrist issues date back to 2013. "The manager said he was going to give me a day off."
Syndergaard will have his usual four days off, but is in line to kick off next week's three-game series in Washington. Part of the reason why Syndergaard mentioned anything at all about his injury, both Collins and assistant general manager John Ricco said, is because the Mets have stressed open lines of communication among all their young pitchers.
"We've asked them to be more forthcoming than less," Ricco said. "We encourage them to tell us what's going on, and we're going to keep a close eye on them. But I don't think it's an indication that this is anything. Talking with the doctors, they don't think so either."
Syndergaard is on a regimen of anti-inflammatory medication that should ease any remaining discomfort between now and his next start. Another likely National League All-Star, Syndergaard is 8-2 with a rotation-best 2.08 ERA and 110 strikeouts.
"We're bending over backwards to try and protect him," Collins said. "The last thing we need is for him to go out there and try to pitch through discomfort. So I'm glad he's OK. I know he'll make his next start."