"It's not easy for any ball player to miss that much time and still have good timing down," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "In my case, I have been playing for the last seven years and I just tried to stay calm and hit good pitches."
Cespedes' home run extended the Mets' road home run streak to 13 games. It also was his fifth career grand slam and the team's second this year. For Mets manager Terry Collins, he wasn't worried about potential rust and was happy to welcome his bat to the lineup.
"He is a special guy and that is why I said it wasn't about the at-bats, as he had a lot of plate appearances down there [while rehabbing]," Collins said. "Even though they weren't simulated games, they were with live pitching and breaking balls."
Cespedes looked good in the field as he overcame his strained left hamstring. He fielded a couple balls over his head and ran the bases well. However, he still has some limitations that have made the Mets be careful with him.
"We have to make sure that we don't stress Cespedes out in the beginning," Collins said. "He has played a game and a half in a month."
The veteran could be eased back into the lineup with days off to help him alleviate soreness from playing consecutive games.
"I know they have a plan for me but nobody knows my body better than I do," Cespedes said. "If they want to give me days off, it has to kind of be based on how I feel my body is reacting."
While rehabbing, Cespedes worked on his flexibility and core through several strengthening exercises. He also played in a rehab game with Class A Advanced St. Lucie, going 0-for-4 against Lakeland. Collins was satisfied enough to call him up as the 26th man for the doubleheader.
The Mets are in a stretch of 18 games without a scheduled day off. So, Cespedes could see his playing time divided with fellow outfielders Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto, and Jay Bruce as he eases back into action.
"We will flip-flop, move guys around and give guys some playing time," Collins said.
Jaylon Thompson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta.