Reyes optimistic about Mets' chances

New York Mets' Jose Reyes (7) congratulates Angel

New York Mets' Jose Reyes (7) congratulates Angel Pagan after Pagan drove him in with a base hit in the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Sept. 14, 2010) (Credit: John Dunn)

For the second time in three days, Jose Reyes patiently answered questions Thursday about the Bernie Madoff-shaped cloud hovering over the Mets.

Ownership's financial troubles? Not thinking about it. His own contract situation? Not thinking about it.

What is Reyes thinking about?

"It's time to play baseball," he said.

Optimism has been in such short supply for the Mets lately, it's almost hard to recognize it when it smiles right at you. That's what Reyes did - smiled broadly and talked optimistically about the 2011 Mets - after an appearance with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the Isaac Newton Middle School in Harlem.

Reyes is not ready to concede the NL East to the Phillies. He's going to spring training with the idea of staying healthy and helping the Mets to an improbable postseason berth.

"That's the goal for our team if everybody stays healthy," he said. "We still have a very good lineup. The only piece that we're going to miss is Johan Santana. He's going to probably be [back] in the middle of the season. I think if we stay healthy, we can be a contender."

Chief among Reyes' reasons for optimism? Jose Reyes.

"There's no doubt in my mind I'm going to be the same Jose Reyes that played in 2008," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind because I've been working so hard this offseason."

Reyes said he is going into spring training "100 percent healthy" and has packed on the pounds to prove it. The shortstop said he is about seven pounds above his usual playing weight of 198 because he was able to work his entire body.

During the 2009-10 offseason, Reyes was coming off hamstring surgery, so he had to spend the winter rehabbing. Then he got to spring training and was felled by a thyroid condition. He also missed time during the season because of an oblique strain.

Despite all that, Reyes hit .282 with 29 doubles, 10 triples, 11 homers, 54 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 133 games. If he betters those numbers in his walk year, Reyes will help the Mets. But he also could end up pricing himself out of their budget or being traded.

"I don't worry about anything what people say about I'm going to be traded, if they're going to trade me or not," he said.

Reyes could be looking at a free-agent contract of more than $100 million. It's not clear whether the Mets would have entertained the idea of paying that much for him even before the Wilpons announced plans last month to seek an investor for up to 25 percent of the franchise.

"I see some of the [Madoff] stuff, but right now I'm concentrating on getting to spring training and getting ready for the season,'' Reyes said.

"It's tough because I think we are a family, but I support them all the way and let's see what happens. My concern is to play baseball. I'm not thinking about my contract. I'm thinking to help this team win a lot of ballgames."

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