LOS ANGELES — After a season of false starts, of brief hot streaks followed by prolonged stretches of cold ones, Mets shortstop Jose Reyes knows better than to make too big a deal out of his recent tear.
“I don’t want to have one good game and then three bad games,” Reyes said on Tuesday before the Mets faced the Dodgers. “That’s what’s been happening.”
But one night after slamming a pair of homers off Clayton Kershaw, Reyes remains hopeful that perhaps this time his bat finally has come to life.
“I know at some point things are going to turn around,” said Reyes. who began the night hitting only .198 despite his surge. “I believe in my talent.”
If the Mets are to turn around their season, they’ll need to believe in that talent as well. Though top prospect Amed Rosario has been impressive at Triple-A Las Vegas, the Mets remain steadfast in their belief that he requires more seasoning in the minor leagues.
Despite mounting calls for a promotion, the 21-year-old Rosario may not see a big-league field this season. When Rosario is called up, general manager Sandy Alderson wants him to stay up. For the Mets, that means waiting on the 34-year-old Reyes to hit his stride to rewrite the narrative of what has been the worst season of his career.
“I never put myself in a situation where I’m going to put my head down,” said Reyes, who batted second on Tuesday night. “I know it was tough for me this year. But there’s never one day where I come to the ballpark and I don’t want to work to get out of this slump.”
Indeed, Reyes has perked up since playing shortstop every day in the absence of Asdrubal Cabrera. Entering play on Tuesday, Reyes had started seven straight games at shortstop. In that span, he’s hitting .292/.370/.667 with three homers and five RBIs.
“He’s starting to swing the bat like he’s capable of,” manager Terry Collins said.
Reyes’ timing has been good, with the middle infield on the 10-day disabled list.
Cabrera has been on the DL since June 13 with a thumb injury, though he began his rehab assignment on Tuesday and could rejoin the Mets as soon as Friday in San Francisco. It could be a while longer for second baseman Neil Walker, who is sidelined with a hamstring tear.
It hasn’t helped that Wilmer Flores has hit a cold stretch of his own. After a six-hit day during a doubleheader on June 10 against the Braves, Flores is 3-for-31 in eight games .097/.091/.284. On Tuesday, Collins gave Flores a breather, with Gavin Cecchini starting at second base alongside Reyes at short.
A year ago, Reyes’ arrival helped spark the Mets during a furious second-half comeback after seemingly falling out of playoff contention. Standing at 10 1/2 games out of a postseason spot entering Tuesday night, Collins said the Mets will need that kind of leadership out of Reyes again this season.
“His enthusiasm and his energy is contagious,” Collins said. “When you’re struggling, it’s pretty hard to be enthusiastic and energetic. One thing about these guys is that they’re very proud. They know who’s pulling on the rope. And when they’re not doing it, they know it. And they get a little frustrated by it.”
Perhaps, this is the hot streak Reyes has been waiting for all season, the one that will last longer than a week.
“I’m just trying to stay consistent,” Reyes said. “I know all season long I haven’t been able to be consistent. I’m trying to have consistent at-bats day in and day out. If I’m able to do that, I’ll be fine.”