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Cespedes on running program after long layoff

Syndergaard, Vargas throw simulated game; neither likely back before ASG
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

TORONTO -- For three and a half weeks, Yoenis Cespedes' recovery from a strained right hip flexor was shrouded in mystery, with little progress to report.

That changed Monday, when Cespedes began a running progression for the first time since shutting down his rehab on June 9. The injured Mets outfielder ran a series of 60-yard sprints at about 75 percent intensity, experiencing no issues afterward.

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TORONTO -- For three and a half weeks, Yoenis Cespedes' recovery from a strained right hip flexor was shrouded in mystery, with little progress to report.

That changed Monday, when Cespedes began a running progression for the first time since shutting down his rehab on June 9. The injured Mets outfielder ran a series of 60-yard sprints at about 75 percent intensity, experiencing no issues afterward.

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"All went really well," manager Mickey Callaway said Tuesday. "[Cespedes] came in today in a really good spot, and we'll progress from there."

After exiting a Minor League rehab game last month due to continued pain in his right quad and hip, Cespedes did little besides treatment and physical therapy for nearly a month. The Mets wanted to make sure Cespedes felt no soreness whatsoever before allowing him to begin weight-bearing exercises.

"That was the goal, to get the soreness completely out before [Cespedes] started running," Callaway said. "He came in the other day, it was gone. So they got him on his feet and got him running."

Before Cespedes can return from the disabled list, however, he must prove he can sprint at full speed. Sidelined since May 13, Cespedes was hitting .255 with 8 home runs and a .790 OPS in 37 games prior to going on the DL. He has played in just 118 of the Mets' 244 games since signing a four-year, $110 million contract after the 2016 season.

On the mend
Also rehabbing in Port St. Lucie, Fla., are pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Jason Vargas, who opposed each other in a simulated game Tuesday. Syndergaard, who is recovering from a strained right index finger, threw three simulated innings for a total of 50 pitches. Vargas, who is nursing a strained right calf, pitched four innings and threw 65 pitches.

The next step for Syndergaard could be a Minor League rehab start, according to Callaway, which would put him in line to come off the DL the final weekend before the All-Star break. Or, if the Mets decide to take things slower, Syndergaard should have little issue returning immediately after the break. He has not pitched since May 25.

While Vargas' workload was heavier than Syndergaard's on Tuesday, he is not necessarily closer to a return. Out since June 19, Vargas has not attempted to run on his strained calf.

Because neither pitcher will be ready when the Mets next need a fifth starter Monday against the Phillies, the team will likely have to rely on a Minor League callup. Chris Flexen and P.J. Conlon, who are both already on the 40-man roster, are the most obvious candidates for that assignment.

Not under consideration is Seth Lugo, whom the club recently moved from the rotation to the bullpen. In his first relief outing Sunday in Miami, Lugo delivered 1 2/3 shutout innings. He has a 3.52 ERA as a starter this season, and a 2.17 mark as a reliever.

"I would like to keep Lugo in the bullpen," Callaway said. "We saw the benefits of that the other day."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Yoenis Cespedes