ATLANTA (AP) — Yoenis Cespedes isn’t concerned that he can’t run at 100 percent. He still swings a big bat.
Cespedes made a smashing return from a six-week stint on the disabled list on Saturday, hitting a grand slam as the New York Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 6-1 in the first game of a doubleheader.
“I wouldn’t go out there to play if I knew that I could injure myself,” he said through a translator. “That’s why I went out there.”
Cespedes, back from a strained left hamstring, didn’t need to run fast after connecting against Luke Jackson in the ninth inning.
The slugging outfielder sent a drive over the left-center field wall and was able to trot slowly enough to soak in the moment and smile at his cheering teammates. He went 2 for 5, including his seventh home run of the season.
“It’s not easy for any ballplayer to miss that much time and still have your timing down,” Cespedes said. “But in my case, I’ve been playing for lots of years. So I just try to stay calm and look for good pitches.”
Mets manager Terry Collins said the team plans to get Cespedes’ input on how much he plays during the next week.
“Right now he’s going to play a game, he’s going to be off a day, then he’s probably going to play a couple (of games), then get another day off,” Collins said. “We’ll wean him back into this thing.”
Robert Gsellman (5-3) won his third straight start. He gave up three hits, two walks and struck out four in 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Braves had won three in a row.
Brandon Phillips’ fourth homer for Atlanta cut the lead to 2-1 in the eighth off Fernando Salas, but closer Addison Reed got five outs for his 10th save.
Braves starter Sean Newcomb (0-1) lost in his major league debut despite allowing just one unearned run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked two while doing his best to block out any nerves early on.
T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores each had a sacrifice fly for the Mets, who avoided dropping to a season-worst nine games under .500. New York had lost 10 of its last 14 road games.
The Mets went up 2-0 in the eighth. Jackson hit Michael Conforto on the uniform with a pitch, Cespedes singled and a passed ball advanced the runners. Conforto scored on Flores’ sacrifice fly.
New York took a 1-0 lead in the second, helped by Newcomb’s throwing error on a potential double-play ball.
Mets SS Asdrubal Cabrera committed two errors in the first, giving him 10 for the season. He had only seven in 135 games last year. … Jose Reyes went 0 for 4 as his average dropped four points to .186. Reyes is hitless in his last 26 at-bats.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz (0-0) will be activated from the disabled list to start the second game of the split doubleheader and make his season debut. Matz has been sidelined with left elbow inflammation. He’s 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA in five career starts against Atlanta.
Braves: RHP Matt Wisler (0-0) will make his first start of the season. He has a 7.00 ERA in nine innings of relief this year. Wisler went 7-13 with a 5.03 ERA in 26 starts last season.
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