By Matt Citak

Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes has hit a rough patch.

The star outfielder has not hit a home run since June 23 and has only nine long balls on the season. Mets manager Terry Collins is fully aware of Cespedes’ struggles, but does not think it is time to panic yet.

“There’s a little concern there, but we also know when he gets back to what we expect or what we have seen, he’s dangerous,” Collins told ESPN before the team’s 5-0 loss to St. Louis on Tuesday.

“This is all new to us because this guy has not struggled since he’s been here,” Collins added. “So we’ve got things we’ve got to work on.”

Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Cespedes, who missed 37 games earlier in the season with a sore quad and a strained hamstring, injured his hip during Saturday’s game against Colorado when attempting to make a diving catch. The 31-year-old missed the remainder of the game and sat out Sunday’s contest. He has gone 1-for-9 with two strikeouts since returning.

Over the last 15 games, a stretch spanning 72 at-bats, Cespedes has only one extra-base hit, one RBI and has seen his batting average drop from .321 to .272. In fact, since returning from the disabled list, it seems as if Cespedes has lost all patience at the plate. In the 18-game stretch before heading to the DL at the beginning of the season, the outfielder had an 11-to-14 walk-to-strikeout ratio. However, in the 28 games since returning from the injury, the outfielder has walked only twice and has struck out 16 times.

“Obviously, power is huge from the legs,” Collins said. “Just looking at the swings, the lower half seems to be fine. He’s just not getting the bat out in front. He’s getting beat on some balls in. I don’t know if that has anything to do with the lower half because I think that’s still intact, but I can’t say it isn’t. He hasn’t complained about it. He’s just not getting the bat to the baseball where he normally does.”

Collins said he has tried to remain supportive of New York’s star outfielder and is sure Cespedes will get back on track eventually.

“He was swinging very, very well going into the break,” Collins said. “I talked to him today and I said, ‘Look, we may make some changes here down the road, but get ‘er going.

“I’m not sure he’s ever been through anything like this before in his whole career. … You’ve just got to keep grinding it out, keep working at it. … He’s trying to get himself undone and get it going, and when he does, he’ll start to carry us again.”

In 46 games this season, Cespedes is hitting .272/.326/.485 with nine HRs and 20 RBIs.

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