Yoenis Cespedes is back in the New York Mets lineup and he’s already making history.
Playing in his first game since July 20, 2018, Cespedes became the first designated hitter in Major League Baseball history to hit a home run in a regular season game between two National League teams.
Cespedes’ homer — a solo blast against Chris Martin — stood up as the only run in the Mets season-opening victory against the Atlanta Braves.
Technically, Cespedes has a three-game home run streak going. He homered in each of his final two games back in 2018, though those games were separated by two months. On May 13, he hit a solo home run off Aaron Nola of the Philadelphia Phillies. After two months on the shelf, he returned to hit another solo against New York Yankees right-hander Domingo German.
Shortly after, he had season-ending surgery to remove a bone calcification from his right heel. A fractured ankle suffered during a run-in with a wild boar ended Cespedes’ 2019 season before it even started.
Friday’s historic homer is one that would not have been possible when MLB was scheduled to open on March 26. At that time, Cespedes was still recovering from his ankle injury and did not have a set timetable to return. His role now would be uncertain as well had MLB and the players’ union not agreed to implement a universal DH for the coronavirus-shortened season.
The 2020 rule change will create new opportunities for players like Cespedes, who are either limited by injuries or defensive abilities. It has also led to the first of many unique pieces of baseball history that will be made during the unique season.
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