LOS ANGELES -- To many, idyllic Dodger Stadium is a classic ballpark where memories are made. For the Mets, it's a place they'd rather forget, even though a few of those painful lessons may serve them well this week.
Jose Reyes remembers all too well tearing his right hamstring tendon at Chavez Ravine in 2009. Reyes had tried to play through a partial rip, which exacerbated the injury and led to a tear and offseason surgery.
That's why Reyes intends to be more cautious this time with a less severe injury. He resigned himself to plenty of massage and some batting practice Monday rather than take a chance on playing in the series opener against the Dodgers.
"I know what's happened here," Reyes said, laughing a bit uncomfortably. "After that, it wasn't the same. I know what happened in 2009 when I tried to get on the field too soon. Everybody knows what happened. I'm going to take my time. When I'm ready to play, I'm going to play. I don't want to play [Monday night]. I'll test it [Tuesday] and see what happens after that."
Reyes was diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain (the least severe) of his left hamstring Sunday, and he felt surprisingly good Monday despite a cross-country flight the previous night. The plan is for him to try running Tuesday. If there are no setbacks, it sounds as if Wednesday could be a logical return date.
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"It's tough," Reyes said. "If I'm able to play 100 percent, I'm going to play -- it's no doubt. But I have to make sure my leg's ready. I don't want to go through what I've been through in '09 because I'm learning from that."
The Mets, under new general manager Sandy Alderson, also seem determined not to repeat their mistakes of the past with health issues. Alderson has displayed a quick trigger putting players on the disabled list this season rather than let Terry Collins deal with a shorthanded roster. But in Reyes' case, Alderson and Collins appear willing to wait a few days before making a call on the DL. Alderson thinks that as long as they monitor Reyes closely, the situation can be managed.
"We can see how he progresses from day to day or we can put him on the disabled list," Alderson said. "At this point at least, we prefer to play a man short for a handful of days in order to avoid the disabled list.
"He's been a special player all year, but I think it's also the nature of the injury. It's just difficult right now to fully assess it."
R.A. Dickey and Jason Bay each has his own injury history at Dodger Stadium, but different recollections of it. Dickey left Sunday's game because of tightness underneath the glute, which was the same ailment that bothered him last July at Chavez Ravine.
That day, Dickey twice argued with Jerry Manuel to stay in the game but eventually was removed. It's a little worse this time, but Dickey still intends to start Friday in San Francisco. "The blessing of this type of injury," he said, "is that it seems to heal quickly."
Bay wishes he could say the same about the season-ending concussion he suffered by colliding with the leftfield wall during that same visit last season. When reporters approached him before Monday night's game to ask about the incident, at first he didn't realize it happened here.
"I've been here a lot," Bay said. "It's just another ballpark now."
Maybe after a little more time has passed, the Mets as a whole can feel the same way.