Cespedes shows off arm, nabs Rodriguez at 3rd
NEW YORK -- It must be the armband. The first time Yoenis Cespedes wore his parakeet-yellow armband, he launched the first home run of his Mets career, made a new feathered friend and helped finish off a win over the Rockies.
Then he switched arms. When he took the field for Saturday evening's 5-3, 14-inning loss to the Pirates, Cespedes had moved the band from his left arm to his right. Maybe he knew he'd need to keep his throwing arm warm.
In the ninth inning of this crucial midsummer game, Cespedes broke toward a Sean Rodriguez fly ball in less than half a second, per Statcast™. The center fielder might have moved too quickly, though, because he overran the ball, which bounced off the wall in left-center field. As Cespedes spun for the ball and Rodriguez sprinted to a sure triple, Cespedes ran back, scooped it up and threw to third while falling off-balance.
Statcast™ recorded his top speed in pursuit of the ball at 20.28 mph before he fired to third at 89.4 mph.
The ball one-hopped perfectly into Juan Uribe's glove to nab a stunned Rodriguez, who simply stood up and walked straight to the Pirates' dugout without protest. The throw stifled a potential Pirates rally and extended the game.
"Just going out, getting the ball and throwing it where I'm supposed to throw it," Cespedes said. "It just works out that I get the out."
The throw evoked memories of a similarly humid June night in Anaheim, when Cespedes threw out Howie Kendrick at home after bobbling a ball in left field. Cespedes had that highlight -- from June 10, 2014, when he was still a member of the A's -- fresh in his mind as he replicated it Saturday.
"I was actually asked about that throw yesterday," Cespedes said. "I don't know what I threw it here, in terms of distance, but in Anaheim that was 303 feet, so that seems to be [better]."
Mets manager Terry Collins, who's spent 11 seasons as a Major League manager in addition to decades at all levels of baseball, said he's never seen a throw like it. The sheer distance of it, from the center field warning track to third base with just one bounce in between, took him by surprise.
"We've all heard he's got a great arm, and he showed it on that play," Collins said. "But what an accurate throw from way out there."
When the Mets acquired Cespedes before the non-wavier Trade Deadline, Collins called friends around the Major Leagues for scouting reports on his new slugger. The word that came back to him was "special," and the numbers back up those reports.
"They said he's special, we're seeing lots of signs of it," Collins said.