Cespedes suffers leg cramp on last play

Outfielder sustains hamstring injury, unlikely to play Tuesday

July 4th, 2017

WASHINGTON -- Terry Collins figured would catch the ball, that the game would go to extra innings, that the absurdity of another Mets visit at Nationals Park would continue just a bit longer. Cespedes felt he had a play, as well. Given the ball's launch angle and exit velocity, Statcast™ estimated his odds at 86 percent.

Instead, the final play of the Mets' 3-2 loss to the Nationals on Monday typified their season. Ranging in to pursue a sinking line drive, Cespedes slid awkwardly, his right hamstring cramping as the ball dunked in front of him. The Nationals hesitated for a moment, then poured out of their dugout once they realized they had scored a walk-off hit.

In the midst of Washington's celebration, Cespedes limped off the field alongside Mets athletic trainer Ray Ramirez. Collins said he is unlikely to play Tuesday.

"It was just a cramp," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "It could happen to anybody. I could have been walking. I could have been sleeping."

But Cespedes was not sleeping. He was running, the one activity that has vexed him more than any other this season. In April, Cespedes landed on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, which the Mets also initially called a cramp. Suffering a right quad injury during his rehab, Cespedes ultimately returned to the Mets six weeks later.

Now, Cespedes has a right hamstring issue, the severity of which the Mets won't immediately know. In the aftermath of Monday's loss, they were simply hoping would be healed enough from his tight right hip to play in their 11:05 a.m. ET rematch against the Nationals on Tuesday, lest they have to start a natural infielder -- Matt Reynolds, most likely -- in left. (To that end, Granderson said he is "optimistic," though that could change as he attempts to warm.)

This is the type of uncertainty the Mets have grown used to from Cespedes, who missed multiple weeks last year with a quad injury. The Cuban outfielder has endured myriad leg muscle issues since coming to the United States in 2012. Since Cespedes returned from the DL last month, the Mets have been careful with him, erring on the side of extra days of rest. He has played in just 39 of their 82 games.

"He's been doing all the stuff he's supposed to do," Collins said. "He has not complained of any issues with the legs. I can understand in this heat, tonight, how he could be a little dehydrated late in the game like that."

Whatever the reason, the Mets now must proceed without Cespedes, needing to win two straight games to claim a series victory over the Nationals. Monday's loss assured them a sub-.500 record heading into the All-Star break -- an ignominy the Mets might have avoided had Cespedes come up with Raburn's sinking liner.

"I thought he was going to catch it, to be honest," Collins said. "But I've got to worry about the long-term."