Sunday marked the start of regular season MLB play, and while three games — Cardinals-Pirates, Cubs-Angels and Blue Jays-Rays — got things going, the marquee event took place at night, in a World Series rematch between the Mets and Royals. But although both teams entered this season with lofty aspirations, it appeared that a couple of players didn’t get the memo that exhibition games were over.
In the very first inning, on the first ball hit his way, Yoenis Cespedes reminded everyone that the Mets’ $75 million investment did not buy them a perfect player. With one out, Matt Harvey induced a harmless-looking flare to left field by Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas, but Cespedes had it bounce off his glove for an error.
That was followed by another error — a passed ball by Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud — then a walk and a seeing-eye ground ball to score Moustakas. Harvey got out of the inning by getting Kendrys Morales to ground into a double play, but the error by Cespedes had New York fans suddenly feeling a bit more jittery about their team’s prospects.
The irony was that, with the Mets playing in an AL park and thus able to use a designated hitter, Cespedes was stationed in left, where he is considered a much better fielder than where his team intends to play him most of the time, center field. In this case, though, there wasn’t anything challenging about the play, and it appeared that Cespedes merely suffered a lapse in concentration.
For the Royals, Edinson Volquez also had a noticeably absent-minded episode, albeit one that was far less costly for his team. The starting pitcher began his team’s season by wearing the wrong hat, one that Kansas City players were supposed to have left behind at their spring training facility in Surprise, Ariz.
Surprise! Volquez produced a 1-2-3 inning in the first, including a ground-out by Cespedes, so perhaps the team should have let him keep the hat on, but when he came out to the mound for the second inning, the correct cap was in place.
Of course, if Volquez pitches effectively this season, Royals fans won’t care what hat he wears (although MLB officials probably will). On the other hand, Mets fans can only hope that the flashy Cespedes can keep a lid on the careless play.