Baserunning last hurdle for Cespedes' return

All-Star OF tests strained right quad in center field

Baserunning last hurdle for Cespedes' return

PHILADELPHIA -- Yoenis Cespedes sat by his locker at Citizens Bank Park on Friday as a new shipment of bats arrived. But it will be at least another day before he puts any fresh wood into action.

Cespedes was out of the Mets' starting lineup as they opened the second half of the season against the Phillies, extending his inactive stretch to a full week. He is still recovering from a strained right quad he sustained in a 3-1 loss to the Nationals on July 8.

"We decided taking a chance right now is probably not the wisest," manager Terry Collins said. "Tomorrow could be a different day, but we're going to be careful."

Although Cespedes didn't offer a guess as to when he will be able to return to the lineup, he and Collins both called the situation day to day. Collins said Cespedes is available to pinch-hit.

It's not the swing that is still bothering Cespedes, but rather running the bases. Even normal running in center field, Cespedes felt OK. But the quad flares up whenever Cespedes' right leg lands on a bag.

"When I was doing drills out in the outfield, playing catch and catching some balls, it was fine. ... Whenever I would step on the base, I would feel it," said Cespedes.

Cespedes' RBI double in the 4th

Cespedes did admit that covering the extra ground in center on a daily basis has taken a toll on him. The All-Star break, plus sitting two games leading into it, has offered him a much-needed rest. He was confident that he could open the second half in the lineup until going through baserunning drills.

In Cespedes' absence, Collins moved Curtis Granderson into the No. 3 hole for Friday's game. But he doesn't foresee it being a permanent move into the middle of the order.

"I still think hitting behind Jose [Reyes] is a good spot for [Granderson] because of the kind of hitter he is," Collins said. "We're hoping to be able to do that again when Yo gets back."

In the two games Cespedes missed prior to the All-Star break, Collins experimented with Neil Walker and Wilmer Flores hitting third. Friday was the first game Granderson has moved from the two-hole since the club acquired Reyes.

Worth noting

• Although he didn't get a chance to appear in the game, Noah Syndergaard did throw off flat ground at Petco Park over the All-Star break. He did so again at Citizens Bank Park prior to Friday's game. He is expected to throw off the mound on Saturday.

Collins didn't see Syndergaard throw, but said he is feeling fine. The 23-year-old righty is one of two young Mets starters dealing with bone spurs in his elbow, and has not started since leaving his outing on July 8 after 4 2/3 innings against the Nationals with arm fatigue.

The Mets are giving Syndergaard as much time as possible following the All-Star break. He is scheduled to pitch Tuesday against the Cubs in Chicago.

Syndergaard leaves with injury

Lucas Duda hasn't played in a game since May 20 with a stress fracture in his back. Collins said Friday that Duda is set to begin baseball activities in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

He has been out close to two months. At the start of June, Duda hoped to resume baseball activities in no more than six weeks. This puts him right on track with the end of his timeline.

James Loney, whom the Mets acquired to fill in at first, has cooled off since starting his Mets tenure on a tear. In 150 plate appearances, he has hit .277 with four home runs and 16 RBIs, but had just one hit in his final four games before the All-Star break.

Evan Webeck is a reporter for based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.