Security sent by team management to the Mets’ hotel found no trace of Céspedes or his belongings, and the team remained unaware of the 34-year-old’s decision not to play the rest of the season until late in the game against the Atlanta Braves.
The Mets had earlier released a statement saying Céspedes made no explanation for his absence ahead of the game and that attempts to contact him had been unsuccessful.
“When we showed up to the ballpark this morning, he was not here, he was not on site, we weren’t aware of why,” Van Wagenen told reporters.
“We were able to send a security team to the hotel, and then ultimately learned later that he was healthy, he was not in any danger and then ultimately he has made the decision to opt out of the season.
“We support every players’ right to make this type of decision. This is a challenging time for everyone and so we will support him in that decision.
“It was surprising, without question, and at the same point we have to go forward and we have to not allow anything to keep us from going forward and attempting to win every game and not have distractions from it.”
The Mets lost 4-0 to the Braves in Sunday’s game at Truist Park, the team’s seventh loss in 10 games since the delayed start to the MLB season in July.
In opting out of the season, Céspedes will forgo the money owed to him over the final months of a four-year, $110-million contract, according to MLB.
Manager Luis Rojas also spoke after the game of the confusion surrounding Céspedes’ disappearance.
“I text him, I call him, I get no response, and as we’re going into the game I’m concerned of where he is,” Rojas told reporters.
“Obviously throughout the game, didn’t learn anything until after the game when I just found out the news that he opted out because of the Covid related reasons.”