With the ball bouncing near the 380-foot marker on Yoenis Cespedes’ double in the third inning, Jose Reyes rounded second, and the Mets’ fastest player appeared to be bound for home plate.
But coach Tim Teufel held his hands up and put a stop to the wheels in motion, holding Reyes at third with two outs. Kelly Johnson struck out two batters later, and the run-challenged Mets remained scoreless. The decision came back to haunt them, as the Cardinals beat the Mets, 3-2, in the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday at Citi Field.
“I’m not going to get into the coaching stuff,” manager Terry Collins said. Asked if Reyes is the person he wants in a scoring situation that comes down to speed, he added: “There’s a lot going into it. Tim had a better angle than anybody, so it’s his call.”
Teufel has been aggressive on similar calls this season, and some of his gambles weren’t rewarded. James Loney ran from second and was thrown out at home in the fourth inning of a 6-2 loss against the Cubs July 20. Wilmer Flores was out at the plate coming from first in the ninth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Braves June 18. Neil Walker and Alejandro De Aza were thrown out at home in the second and eighth inning, respectively, during a 6-5 win over the Indians April 15.
But none of those Mets has the speed or baserunning pizzazz of Reyes, whom Collins praised before the game.
“He’s so excited to be back on the field,” Collins said of Reyes, who has played 15 games in his second stint with the Mets following a 52-game suspension for domestic abuse allegations. He is batting .242 with eight RBIs, three home runs and three stolen bases. “If there’s a guy right now who is still teeming with energy, it’s him.”
At 33, Reyes has slowed since stealing a career-high 78 bases in an All-Star 2007 season with the Mets. He stole 64 and 60 the two years before. But he still poses a threat on the basepaths and has provided an offensive jolt since rejoining the team.
He needs monitoring to curb fatigue and injury, like many older players, Collins said. Yet his speed is still an asset, albeit one that didn’t get the chance to put on a show.