Mets' Reyes takes big first step with new pair of shoes

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes stretches during spring training Mets shortstop Jose Reyes stretches during spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Feb. 23, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The running shoes, spikes and trainers that are piled high in Jose Reyes' locker look the same as the Under Armour brand he signed on to wear last season. At least on the outside. But the shoes themselves have been modified so Reyes now has custom-fit footwear rather than the off-the-rack gear that gave him trouble last year.

When Reyes switched from Nike to Under Armour for the start of spring training a year ago, the company was slow to get him outfitted. And when Reyes did get the shoes, they were not specifically for his feet, which may have contributed to his leg issues.

It wasn't until Reyes already was on the disabled list, with the frayed hamstring tendon behind his right knee, that he had his feet computer analyzed by Under Armour to complete the custom fitting.

As a result, Reyes is happier with the shoes, and it will probably help him stay healthy, too. That's critical for a player who relies so much on his feet. "It's much, much better," Reyes said. "It's a big difference."

Maintenance is crucial for Reyes, who had surgery last October to clean up scar tissue from the tendon tear, and his spring training work continues long after others are finished. Tuesday, after batting practice, Reyes did sprint work and agility drills with three members of the strength staff.

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Castillo welcomed back

The Mets tried to trade Luis Castillo this offseason, but his teammates certainly appeared happy to have him back upon his return Tuesday. He was greeted with enthusiastic hugs, by everyone from Johan Santana to Mike Pelfrey, and he's not holding a grudge against the front office.

"I'm a professional and I don't have any control over what they want to do," Castillo said. "I'm ready to go. I've just got to keep working and do the same thing I did last year."

Extra bases

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Jenrry Mejia threw his first live batting practice session and a team official said the 20-year-old righthander will be used out of the bullpen with a chance to make the Opening Day roster . . . Catcher Rod Barajas passed his physical and should be in camp Wednesday.

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