New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes opted out of the remainder of the 2020 MLB season yesterday after he did not report to Atlanta’s Truist Park prior to a game against the Braves. In separate interviews with reporters today, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso and outfielder Brandon Nimmo refused to criticize their teammate’s decision.
You can watch clips of both interviews in a tweet from MLB.com reporter Anthony DiComo here.
Céspedes took heat from the media and fans not for his choice to forgo the remainder of the season, but rather for the manner that he went about implementing it. After not showing up to the ballpark as scheduled prior to his club’s matchup against the Atlanta Braves, New York general manager Brodie Van Wagenen released a statement saying that attempts to get in touch with the Cuba native were unsuccessful.
His absence had players and staff uneasy, as it came a surprise to even those closest to him within the organization. Manager Luis Rojas admitted that it was a worrisome time for many leading up to the game’s opening pitch.
Former Miami Marlins president David Samson ripped Cespedes on his podcast, questioning the player’s loyalty to his organization.
“What Céspedes did is inexcusable, to walk out on your teammates and your team without giving notice, to disappear from your hotel, to cause a team to worry,” he said.
But while people outside of the organization may have had differing opinions, Alonso said he supported Céspedes and his decision.
“I totally get it. And it’s one of those things, it’s unfortunate to lose a good teammate and a good player like that. But I mean again, I totally understand where he is coming from.”
Alonso did acknowledge there may have been a loss in communication but said that was between Céspedes and the team. Regardless of being left out in the dark, the 2019 NL Rookie of the Year still said he respects the decision that his teammate made, citing Céspedes’ concern for his family’s health.
Nimmo took a business-first approach, saying he knew that players would opt out “whenever they wanted,” and that the onus to win falls onto whoever chooses to remain for the season.
“Honestly my mind was elsewhere when it happened,” he said.
“Once we found out he was gone, that’s really the last we talked about it.”
After missing the entire 2019 campaign with an ankle injury, Céspedes was expected to bounce back and contribute offensively to the Mets’ lineup. Céspedes got off to a strong start with a solo home run in their home opener but has struggled at the plate over the last stretch of games, accumulating a batting average of just.161 through 31 at-bats.