Luis Rojas spoke in Port St. Lucie Friday afternoon just a day before the Mets kick off their first games of spring training, and discussed the progress he's seen out of injured outfielder Yoenis Cespedes so far this offseason.
On what he saw from Cespedes this week and how long until he's ready
"Well I think it was a really big week for him. He's advancing, he's progressing, he's doing things every day that just impress you. He's out there taking fly balls with the rest of the outfielders -- obviously limited in the movement laterally and covering ground -- but he's out there, he's moving, getting behind balls, making throws in. He threw a couple to home plate yesterday, he made a couple of throws after a cutoff in relays. Facing live pitching."
"He's basically going through the schedule at let's say 75 percent of it, 80 percent of it from what everyone else is doing. So that's big news for us.... He's got to go through this progression. And our performance staff is working close with him, and he's doing a good job responding to it."
On what was new in Cespedes' rehab and progression this week
"I'm going to say the live (BP). That was the one that he said 'hey, I haven't seen pitchers in a while,' and we have so many great arms here, I mean that's great competition for him. That's ramping it up from zero to that level for him, all our pitchers in camp are guys with great stuff. And he's able to hit those guys after not seeing pitching for a while, and take those guys like he did with (Jacob) deGrom yesterday, they had that matchup going on."
On any surprises in the first few weeks
"Watching Cespedes out there join, it's a good surprise for us..."
On how Cespedes' heels have felt through workouts in the outfield
"Well I didn't have this conversation with him. He keeps going on this progression and like I said, the performance staff is doing a great job with him and he's right now day-to-day, working with him really hard. There's just no timeline, but he's getting in there, he's getting some of the work.
On how Cespedes has been running in camp
"He's running straight mostly. I know he was doing zig zags at one point, but we want to keep him straight right now running. We were hitting the fly balls the other day, trying to hit them right at him but ... the balls not going to go exactly where he's at and he's got to move, and he moved his feet actually really well. So I'm pretty sure that the progression is going to keep ramping up, as far as laterally and other movements, and you've got to be confident that he's going to do it. I mean this guy is very determined when it's about to keep getting better at things..."
On the type of boost Cespedes could give this team once he is fully healthy
"Oof, I mean, you look back at the thing Cespedes has done in the past with the batting ability that he has, on the field to do things. So we know that he's going to cause a great impact on our team and our lineup, so we're really looking forward to that. ...I'm very excited to see him do what he did in live BP, it kind of tells you that it's almost like he hasn't missed much and it's been a while since he's seen pitching. So definitely you can feel that when it's time, he's going to cause great impact."