PORT ST. LUCIE — Yoenis Cespedes avoided all talk about wild boars Sunday, but otherwise was willing to answer questions from reporters for the first time this spring.
The Mets outfielder, who last week said he wouldn’t speak to the media this season, broke his silence, saying his focus was on the future. Cespedes was rehabbing last May from surgery on both heels when he sustained multiple right ankle fractures during an encounter with a wild boar on his ranch, as first reported by The Post. It’s believed Cespedes was freeing the animal from a boar trap.
“I am not going to speak about the past,” Cespedes said through a translator. “I committed an error and paid the price for it, but today I will be talking about the present and the future.”
Cespedes has been participating in spring-training workouts and indicated his goal is to begin playing in Grapefruit League games by mid-March, with the intent of starting the season with the Mets. The 34-year-old outfielder has missed the last 1 ½ seasons sidelined by ailments.
In the final year of his contract, Cespedes is guaranteed only $6 million this season. He originally was slated to earn $29.5 million, but his deal was restructured to avoid a hearing in front of an arbitrator following the wild-boar encounter that could have voided the contract. The new contract contains incentives that could boost its value to $20 million.
The guaranteed portion of Cespedes’ salary would rise to $11 million once he’s activated — or if he’s sidelined by an injury unrelated to his ankle or heels. The number is prorated based on when he’s activated. The contract also contains incentives based on at-bats and games played.
“I think the money is important, but regardless I was going to come in with the same motivation whether the money was the same or any different,” Cespedes said. “A big part of the motivation is the people who have been out there and have been saying that I can’t do it. So I am going out there to prove that I can.”
Asked about his motivation level, on a scale from 1 to 10, Cespedes answered “12.”
Though Cespedes is aiming for Opening Day, manager Luis Rojas isn’t ready to say if that’s an attainable goal.
“But you have got to respect him saying that,” Rojas said. “He’s a guy that sets himself goals, but there is no timeline for me, but it’s an exciting to watch him every day just progressing.”
Cespedes indicated the surgeries to remove calcifications from both heels has been the tougher rehab than the ankle fractures. He said he’s been awakening at 5 a.m. every day since September to rehab and receive treatment.
During the offseason, ESPN’s Eduardo Perez — who was a Mets managerial candidate — indicated he spoke to Cespedes and the outfielder said if he’s healthy he can hit 40 homers this season. Cespedes didn’t back away from that notion Sunday.
“I think if my legs are healthy, I think it’s possible,” Cespedes said. “It’s all dependent on my legs. I think when it comes to hitting, that is one of the things I’m not worried about, because that is one of the skills you never forget.”
Cespedes said he’s running at 80 percent. He indicated he’s 90-95 percent defensively.
“I feel good. I am happy with the progress,” Cespedes said. “Every day I am still working to get better and better. It’s not as fast as I want it to be, but as the season approaches I feel really good right now.”