"I do feel like I will return. ... It may be three months, it may be two months, it may be one month, but at this point, I do think I can return," the 33-year-old slugger said Friday, speaking to reporters for the first time since camp opened. "When I do return, I plan on being 100 percent, like I was in 2015."
Cespedes was traded to the Mets at midseason in 2015 and helped power their drive to the NL championship. He hit 35 homers that season, with 105 RBIs and a .291 average.
But since signing a four-year, $110 million contract following the 2016 season, the two-time All-Star has appeared in just 119 games. He missed half the 2017 season with hamstring problems and played just 28 games last season before undergoing multiple surgeries on his heels to eliminate calcification and bone spurs.
Cespedes said he has been bored and frustrated because he can't play but that the heel surgery provided a huge relief.
"I can't even say at the moment that I'm at 50 percent, but when I used to wake up [pre-surgery], I would struggle walking. But now, even at this stage of the rehab, I can definitely walk without any pain," he said.
Cespedes said he has been working out for two months and plans to start throwing next week but has no timetable for hitting or running.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway said the surgery Cespedes had isn't common in major league baseball, so the team will have to wait and see.
"There's not a lot of precedents for this type of thing," he said. "We have time, and we're going to let him get to where he can come back and be that guy that is going to be impactful and be the 100 percent Yoenis that he can be."