Jose Reyes held hitless, gets warm hand in emotional return to Queens

ByAdam Rubin ESPN logo
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

NEW YORK -- New York Mets fans greeted Jose Reyes at Citi Field like it was old times, giving him a standing ovation before his first at-bat with the organization in five seasons.

Reyes proceeded to go hitless in four at-bats in the Mets' 5-2 loss to the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, although Reyes was grateful for the reception.

"I felt like it was my first career game in the big leagues," Reyes said. "That's the way that I felt. It was good to see the reaction of the fans. ... I didn't know what to expect. When I got out to home plate, even when I came out to stretch, people were saying my name loud. They support me. That's good to see."

Hours before his first major league game in nine months, Reyes said he understood that he would not universally be welcomed back.

Reyes batted leadoff and played third base for the Mets. It marked his first big league game since an Oct. 31 domestic-violence incident involving his wife in Hawaii. The incident did not lead to criminal prosecution, but it did result in a suspension for the opening two months of this season.

Reyes signed a minor league contract with the Mets after being released by the Colorado Rockies.

The Mets demoted infielder Matt Reynolds to Triple-A Las Vegas and transferred David Wright to the 60-day disabled list to clear room for Reyes.

"I know there are some people who are going to hate me," Reyes said. "I understand that. I put myself in that situation, like I've said before. But people who know me from the bottom of their heart, they know I'm not that kind of person. I'm a human being. Human beings make mistakes. Nobody is perfect.

"You have to learn from the mistakes. I did everything possible that MLB told me. I paid my suspension. I went to counseling, and I'm going to continue to be open to doing that -- to be a better man, a better husband, a better daddy in the house and stuff like that, a better teammate.

"This is the first time I went through something like this. I've never gotten in trouble before. I'm the kid who came from the Dominican Republic just loving this game of baseball. I'm very happy to be back, doing what I love to do."

Despite Tuesday's 0-for-4 performance, Reyes should help the Mets, who are highly dependent on the home run, to be more proficient at manufacturing runs. The Mets rank last in the National League with 16 steals.

Still, the 33-year-old Reyes noted he is not the same player he was when he played for the Mets from 2003 through 2011 and became the franchise's all-time steals leader. He swiped 370 bases for the Mets during that nine-season span.

"People have to understand, when I was here, I was the guy who was stealing 60 bases," Reyes said. "... Now I'm 33. But I can still run a little bit. Last year in [116] games I stole 24 bases. That's good in [116] games. That's something I'm going to bring to this ballclub -- a little bit of speed. Like I said, people don't get too crazy. Don't expect that I'm going to steal 60 bases, but I'm going to get my chance and I'm going to steal some bases for this ballclub and put myself in scoring position. Right now I'm a little bit of a different player. There's no doubt about that."

Catcher Travis d'Arnaud gave up No. 7 so Reyes could have his old number back. D'Arnaud, an Indianapolis Colts fan, switched to No. 18 as a tribute to Peyton Manning.

Wilmer Flores will be displaced as the primary third baseman, but manager Terry Collins still plans to keep him involved, at least against left-handed pitching. Flores manned second base on Tuesday and, likely, will start at first base on Wednesday. Reyes primarily should play third base for the Mets, although Collins said he likely would expose Reyes to center field as well. Reyes, a four-time All-Star as a shortstop, professed not to care about his position. He suggested that the Mets are his home. And no matter where you are in your home, you are comfortable.

"When you go to your house, and you go home, it doesn't matter where you sleep," Reyes said. "If you're in the kitchen, bathroom, it doesn't matter. You're going to feel comfortable, right? So this is my home. Everywhere that he puts me, I'm going to be happy. I'm going to perform the best that I can to help this ballclub to win a game every single day, every time I step on the field."

Reyes did not receive any chances at third base on Tuesday, other than receiving a throw from D'Arnaud on a successful steal by the Marlins in the ninth inning.

"I'm disappointed I didn't get any hits, either," Reyes said. "But it is what it is. Hopefully tomorrow I get some opportunities. But I was ready. Today was a little bit different because it was my first game back. I was a little bit extra pumped. Tomorrow I think I'm going to be more settled down."

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