Cespedes had tried to play through a right quadriceps strain for nearly a month before landing on the DL on Aug. 4. Cabrera had been placed on the DL that same week with a strained patellar tendon in his left knee.
Both are in the starting lineup on Friday night against the San Francisco Giants.
After straining his quadriceps and missing nine days while remaining active, Cespedes returned and hit only .205/.302/.318 in 14 games while trying to play through the injury. The Mets then placed him on the DL. Cespedes acknowledged Friday that his performance was impacted during that stretch by his quadriceps issue. General manager Sandy Alderson has acknowledged the Mets miscalculated in not immediately placing Cespedes on the DL.
"I think it was affecting me a lot, just in general with running, and then when I was at the plate getting ready to bat," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "Just in order to do that swing, I really didn't have that strength in my back leg like I do now."
Cespedes' acquisition at the non-waiver trade deadline a year ago prompted the Mets to become the first team in major league history to rank last in MLB in runs scored on July 31 and reach the World Series.
The Mets enter Friday's game ranked 29th in runs scored this season. They also are a game under .500 and 4 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League's second wild-card spot.
Cespedes indicated he could not promise similar production to the final two months of last season, when he hit .287 with 17 homers and 44 RBIs in 230 at-bats after being acquired from the Detroit Tigers.
"Everyone expects me to perform the way I performed last August," Cespedes said. "I can't say anything about that. All I can say is I'm going to go out there and give all I can, the best of myself, every time I go out there to play."
Manager Terry Collins recently had resisted using Cespedes in center field out of concern about the quadriceps injury worsening. Cespedes is starting in left field in his first game back, and Collins said he has no immediate plans to approach Cespedes about returning to center field. The Mets do not have a bona fide alternative to play center field against right-handed pitching, so Curtis Granderson has been seeing action there.
"I prefer left field," Cespedes said. "But, honestly, wherever the team needs me I'll do at this point."
Cespedes also was adamant Friday that golf played no role in his quadriceps injury. Alderson had labeled it "bad optics" that Cespedes had been golfing with a quadriceps injury the morning of the day he finally was placed on the DL.
"I just want to make it really clear that I don't believe golf affected me," Cespedes said. "And it's not just that I believe that. The doctor actually said golf did not affect me. Last year, I played golf as well and there were different results with the team, and I think there was less critique of me doing that in my free time."
Also on the injury front, left-hander Steven Matz, who was scratched from Friday's start with shoulder discomfort, will be examined by team doctors on Monday in New York. And second baseman Neil Walker, who is out of the starting lineup for a fourth straight game because of lower-back stiffness, reported improvement and may be available to pinch hit on Friday.