Port St. Lucie, Fla. — Like so many others on Tuesday, Mets reliever Josh Smoker couldn’t help himself. So, in full uniform, on the way to stretching, he took a detour to the players’ parking lot so he could get a look at what was the talk of camp: Yoenis Cespedes’ ride.
“This is freaking sweet,” Smoker said as he inspected the customized, three-wheeled Polaris Slingshot, a machine that could pass for one of the Transformers. “How do you even classify this thing. Is it a car? Is it a motorcycle?”
The answer, it turns out, is more straightforward than the blue dress/gold dress debate that raged across the Internet a year ago. Technically, Cespedes said, it’s a motorcycle. It’s red and black with his No. 52 painted onto the hood. It also carries a base price around $25,000.
“Man,” Mets pitching prospect Akeel Morris said as he ogled the car on the way to the practice fields. “That thing is sick!”
The Mets players’ lot features two Maseratis (Matt Harvey and Antonio Bastardo) and plenty of souped-up trucks. But all of them looked like Ford Tempos parked next to what Cespedes brought to work. The motorcycle is just one in Cespedes’ impressive car collection, which includes a Lamborghini that’s tricked out to spit fire.
“What the (heck) is it?” Lucas Duda said as he passed the vehicle on the way in to the clubhouse.
Players admired the speaker system. Minor-league catcher Raywilly Gomez pulled out his iPhone to snap pictures. A few suggested confiscating the keys one day and taking it for a joy ride.
But the Cespedesmobile isn’t for everyone. Zack Wheeler, owner of a large lifted truck, joked that he could probably crush Cespedes’ go-kart-sized motorcycle. Bartolo Colon, the elder statesman of the Mets, prefers practicality.
“Nah,” Colon said before climbing into his Land Rover. “I got a big family.”
Smoker grew up racing modified go-karts in Georgia. He eventually graduated to racing on dirt tracks before giving it up at age 14 to focus on baseball. Naturally, his attention shifted to the speedometer. It maxed out at 220 and Smoker wondered if there was some kind of restriction.
But mostly, he hoped to find out how fast it could go.
Said Smoker: “I’d like to get in one of those.”
By day’s end, media members congregated in the players’ parking lot, hoping to capture the moment that Cespedes fired up the engine. He didn’t disappoint. The roar of the engine was muffled only by the music that blared full-blast from the speakers.
Even Cespedes himself indulged in the spectacle.
It wasn’t quite Donald Trump giving kids rides in his helicopter at the Iowa State Fair, but when a photographer asked for a spin around the block, Cespedes obliged. He sped the Slingshot out of the parking lot. Though it disappeared from sight, the roar of the engine could be heard as they briefly toured the streets around Tradition Field.
Cespedes signed a three-year, $75 million deal with the Mets in the offseason. He had 18 home runs, 61 RBI and a .293 batting average in 102 games with the Tigers last season before he was traded to the Mets on July 31 for right-handed pitching prospects Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.