By DANIEL POPPER
new york daily news
A hushed murmur spread over the Citi Field crowd on a balmy summer night in Queens, and all eyes were transfixed on left field, where a divot the size of a small crater served as the remaining evidence of yet another Yoenis Cespedes injury.
Cespedes left the Mets’ 9-3 victory over the Rockies Saturday in the top of the sixth inning after hurting his right hip while sliding for a shallow fly ball in left field.
Unsurprisingly, the team downplayed the ailment after the game.
“I have a little discomfort in my hip,” Cespedes said through a translator. “But the doctor said there’s nothing serious going on.”
Terry Collins said he would likely sit Cespedes for Sunday’s series finale against Colorado. The manager called the decision to pull Cespedes “more precautionary than anything.”
“But he did feel something in his hip,” Collins said. “So I just took him out, and we’ll see where he’s at tomorrow.”
With one out in the sixth, Cespedes charged a soft liner off the bat of Nolan Arenado near the left-field line and made an effort for the dipping ball, dropping to his rear end with his right leg bent and his left leg straight. But his right knee dug deep into the turf and got caught, digging the grass up in a violent collision.
Cespedes failed to make the catch and tumbled forward as his right leg jerked back awkwardly. He rolled onto his back, and the ball skipped away toward the foul wall.
Cespedes sprinted after the loose ball, picked it up and fired back into the infield. He then walked around with a slight limp before hunching over in pain.
Collins ran onto the field and spoke with Cespedes for several minutes before the outfielder begrudgingly walked into the dugout. Asdrubal Cabrera draped his arm around Cespedes, who was visibly disappointed. The Mets held an 8-0 lead.
Cespedes said he was surprised at how easily the outfield grass gave out.
“I think I could have definitely kept on playing,” Cespedes said. “It’s just because of the score of the game, we just decided to play it safe.”
Jay Bruce fixed the divot with his foot before the Citi Field grounds crew did its own maintenance in between innings.
“It looks similar to my golf divots,” Bruce quipped after the game.
“I was just hoping he got up,” Bruce added. “And he popped right up, so I wasn’t too worried after that.”
Earlier Saturday, Cespedes — who missed over a month earlier this season with a left hamstring strain and also battled quad problems in 2016 — said he was very close to 100 percent. He went 4-for-6 in Friday night’s 14-2 victory, including a hustle double and an RBI infield single, and played without a compression strap he typically wears on his leg to prevent injury.
After enjoying four days off over the All-Star break, Cespedes was feeling as healthy as he’d felt since April, when he first suffered the hamstring injury.
“That All-Star break helped me a lot. It was really nice to be able to rest that many days,” Cespedes said through a translator Saturday afternoon. “I would say that if I’m not already at 100 percent, it’s really not much till I get there.”
Cespedes even said he was now able to play without the thought of leg injuries seeping into and cluttering his mind.
“It’s really been over two weeks since I really had to stop and think about my legs when I’m running and things like that,” he said. “I think now it’s just a matter of my instincts take over.”
His instincts took over Saturday night. And now the Mets must hold their breath, hoping their lone chance at a playoff run isn’t more injured than they originally suspected.
“If he’s out for a period of time, we’ll just have to do the best we can,” Collins said. “Do I think we can (survive)? Yeah. I mean, you have to.”
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