PHILADELPHIA -- Almost immediately, postseason implications began flashing through Terry Collins' head. The Mets manager had just witnessed arguably his best player, Yoenis Cespedes, take an 89-mph fastball off his left hand and crumple in pain. Collins began considering what his National League Division Series roster might look like with Cespedes gone.
Then he exhaled upon learning that his star outfielder had avoided the worst. Cespedes left Wednesday's 7-5 loss to the Phillies after Justin De Fratus hit him on the left hand in the third inning, but X-rays later revealed only a bruise on his middle and ring fingers. He will not play in Thursday's series finale, but could be available as soon as this weekend.
"I felt pain when I first got hit but I really wasn't that worried," Cespedes said through a team spokesman because his interpreter was unavailable. "Naturally, I was relieved when the X-rays came back negative."
So too were the Mets. Things initially seemed much worse when Cespedes dropped his bat and fell to the ground in obvious pain, grimacing as trainer Ray Ramirez checked on him. More than a minute passed before Cespedes made it back to his feet, slowly walking off the field.
"He'll be OK," Collins said. "We've got a long way to go before we have to use him. Certainly, I'd like to use him this weekend. I think I probably will. But I'm just relieved that nothing's broken."
Kirk Nieuwenhuis replaced Cespedes as a pinch-runner at first base, stayed in to play center field and was later hit by a pitch himself, adding to tension between the Mets and Phillies that ultimately resulted in ejections for Collins and Hansel Robles.
The Mets' prized non-waiver Trade Deadline acquisition, Cespedes is batting .287 with 17 home runs in 53 games for New York. All 17 of those homers came within a 31-game stretch from mid-August through mid-September, prompting a wave of NL MVP support. Awards aside, Cespedes has developed a larger-than-life persona in Flushing, his arrival coinciding with one of the Mets' best stretches in franchise history.
He will be a free agent after this season.
Wilmer Flores also departed Wednesday's game with lower back spasms, but downplayed the severity of his issue. He also hopes to return to the lineup as soon as Friday.
"I was feeling it at shortstop and I was feeling it in my first at-bat," said Flores, who departed after he advanced to third base on a wild pitch following a fourth-inning single. "I felt like there was no reason to stay out there and not be able to do what I'm supposed to do."