NEW YORK -- Yoenis Céspedes is out indefinitely with a strained right quad, and Mets manager Terry Collins is preparing to contend without the power-hitting Cuban outfielder for the time being.
Cespedes has been nursing the injury since just prior to the All-Star break, but it flared up to the point of no return when he struck out in the ninth inning against Tyler Clippard on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
Cespedes, the Mets' designated hitter in the loss to the Yankees, came back to the dugout and told his manager that he had tweaked the injury.
"As soon as the game was over, we sat down in my office and he said, 'I just can't keep playing like this,'" Collins recalled before his club's 4-1 win, powered by newcomer Jay Bruce's three-run homer.
And with that, Cespedes went on the disabled list. There is no timetable for his return.
"We're going to wait a few days for it to quiet down and to where he starts some activities down in Florida," Collins said. "Right now, they just want this thing to quiet down totally, and there's no timeframe on how long that's going to take."
It's not good news for a team trying desperately to make the playoffs and defend last year's National League pennant. The Mets are going to need some help from others, and almost on cue Thursday night, Bruce smacked the homer during the fifth inning off Yanks starter Nathan Eovaldi, his first hit with the Mets after going 0-for-10 with a walk.
"I told some guys that it felt like it was my first Major League home run, running around the bases," Bruce said afterward. "It felt good to make an impact that way. It was a big spot."
Bruce was acquired in a trade with the Reds on Monday, and the acquisition of the left-handed power hitter now with 26 homers and 83 RBIs this season couldn't have come a moment too soon.
"The atmosphere in our clubhouse the other day when we got Jay Bruce should have been that our front office and our ownership don't think we're dead or they wouldn't have gone out and did what they did," Collins said. "And so, Jay Bruce is going to be a factor.
"Obviously because of who he is and what he's done so far, there's going to be a lot of attention on him as we move forward. I just want him to go play his game. Other people around [him] have to step up."
But paraphrasing what Reggie Jackson once so aptly said about his future with the Yankees, Cespedes is the straw that stirs the drink.
The Mets were two games over .500 last year before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline when Mets general manager Sandy Alderson engineered the last-minute deal that brought Cespedes to New York from the Tigers.
Cespedes batted .287 with 17 homers and 44 RBIs in 57 games for the Mets, and he was the thrust behind them finishing 18 games over .500, seven games over the Nationals in the NL East. That's the kind of impact Cespedes had.
Cespedes continued on an All-Star clip this season and was voted to the NL team, before opting out of the game in San Diego because of the quad injury. He's batting .292 with 22 homers and 59 RBIs in 94 games this season for the Mets.
But get this: Cespedes has a .573 slugging percentage and a .927 OPS for the Mets in one calendar year.
Even with the addition of Bruce, Cespedes' numbers are going to be tough to replace.
"Do you really think I expect that [Bruce] is going to have that kind of impact?" Alderson said rhetorically earlier this week. "There are a few other verbs I would use, like hope."
And that was before Cespedes went on the DL.
"Look, it was an extraordinary turnaround last year," Alderson added. "All we can do is try and acquire as many good players as we can to put us in that position to have that magic again. [Bruce] can have that kind of impact. One player certainly can have that kind of significant impact."
Collins can only hope, using Alderson's choice of verbs. And Bruce can at least be the elixir if not a temporary straw.
"I can only be myself," Bruce said. "The worst thing I can do is to be something else other than what I am. I think the whole team is ready to step up and pick up the slack until [Cespedes] gets back. We need him. He's going to be back and he's going to be healthy and he's going to be the force he always is. We just have to play good baseball until then."
It's been that kind of season for a club that has lost the likes of captain David Wright, Matt Harvey, Juan Lagares, Travis d'Arnaud, Lucas Duda, Asdrúbal Cabrera, Jim Henderson, José Reyes and now Cespedes for portions of the season, if not the entire year.
Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard are also pitching with problematic elbows.
When asked if the injury bug has ever hit any of the teams he's managed this hard, Collins said, "Never."
But there's no point in crying about it, Collins knows, and the Mets have the depth to see even the Cespedes situation through.
"[Cespedes] was a huge factor," Collins said. "We're not going to mistake that. But we've gone through this so far this year, not just with him, but with a lot of guys. You know what? You walk into that room and you go around and you say to certain guys, 'We're going to need you to pick it up, to step it up. Again, not to do necessarily what Yoenis Cespedes does, but do what you can do to pick up the load.'"