PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Jose Reyes took live batting practice Monday for the first time this spring, an important step on his road back to the Mets' lineup. But Reyes would not say if he thinks this activity made him more likely to be ready for Opening Day, which is six days away.
"We have to take it one day at a time," he said. "I think Tuesday I'm going to run the bases. We'll see what happens after that."
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Under an overcast sky with intermittent light rain, Reyes batted righthanded against minor-league lefthander Mike Antonini and lefthanded against righty Dillon Gee. The shortstop previously hit in the batting cage only.
"I thought he looked pretty good," Manuel said. "I was surprised that he would have those types of swings right away. Those [pitchers] are a little further along and those are two pitchers we like very much, Dillon Gee and Antonini. It was good to see him have those type of at-bats against those guys."
The Mets are proceeding cautiously with Reyes. They could leave him behind when the season starts rather than rush him in for the opener.
"Everybody wants to be in Opening Day because that's good to be there," Reyes said. "Right now we don't know what's going to happen. I'm trying to get ready as soon as possible."
Since he returned from his nearly three weeks of inactivity because of elevated thyroid levels, Reyes has ramped up his workouts every day. There have been no setbacks, but there also is no firm timetable for him to get in an exhibition game.
"I feel good," Reyes said. "I don't feel bad. I don't have a problem in my leg. Everything feels good. But my concern is getting my timing back, my comfort at home plate. That's going to be the key for me."
"I think the determining factor is how he feels at the plate more than anything," he said. "If he can find his rhythm and do his thing and get enough reps in that type of scenario, the better for him and the better prepared he will be."
Reyes' next major step will be playing in a minor-league game, perhaps Tuesday. The Mets would give him multiple at-bats and allow him to run the bases (or not) based on what his needs are. That could not happen in a regular exhibition game.
"We can bat him every inning," Manuel said. "We can control that. The environment that he'll be in has to be somewhat controlled."
Manuel was asked about his "gut feeling" on Reyes' availability for Monday.
"I don't know," he said.