The general manager added that when the team arrived at Atlanta’s Truist Park ahead of the game, scheduled to start at 1:10 p.m., officials “weren’t aware of why” Cespedes was not on hand. The Mets sent security personnel to their team hotel, where they found his room empty, according to Van Wagenen, after which they were told by Cespedes’s agent that the 34-year-old veteran decided to stop playing this year.
Claiming that the Mets had no previous indication from Cespedes that he was considering opting out, Van Wagenen said the way things unfolded Sunday was “surprising, without question.”
He added that “we support everybody’s and every players’ right to make this type of decision,” and that “this is a challenging time for everyone.” Van Wagenen reiterated that he was “glad that he’s okay, because there was a period of time where we weren’t sure.”
Earlier in the afternoon in Atlanta, the Mets had taken the unusual step of releasing a statement in which their general manager said “attempts to contact [Cespedes] have been unsuccessful.”
Van Wagenen announced the absence just as the game was beginning. “As of game time, Yoenis Cespedes has not reported to the ballpark today. He did not reach out to management with any explanation for his absence,” he said in a statement. “Our attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful.”
USA Today reported at the time that the absence was not related to the coronavirus and that “his safety is not at risk. He has also not told Mets officials he is opting out” of the season.
Before the game, Manager Luis Rojas suggested that Cespedes, who was in a 2-for-15 slump with nine strikeouts, would be given the day off. Cespedes was the designated hitter in the Mets’ 7-1 loss Saturday, going 0 for 4 and striking out twice.
Injuries to his feet and legs sidelined Cespedes for nearly two years before the pandemic-shortened season began.
Rojas said after Sunday’s loss that once he and his staff noticed Cespedes did not appear to be at the ballpark, he called and texted the player to no avail, which left Rojas “concerned.” He added that he was sure some of his players had tried to reach Cespedes, as well.
The manager said he was “very surprised” to learn of Cespedes’s decision to opt out but felt his players would support the choice and not harbor any ill will toward their teammate over how he handled it.
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