As Jose Reyes has enjoyed his best offensive week in more than a year, baseball hasn’t been the only thing on his mind.
All week Reyes has remained in touch with the family of Jose Lima, the former Mets righthander who died suddenly last Sunday of an apparent heart attack.
A funeral service had been scheduled for today in Queens, where Lima had family, and Reyes was planning to lead a contingent of Mets players there. He asked the Mets to provide transportation so that he and his teammates could meet at Citi Field and go there together.
But ESPNdeportes reported last night that the funeral has been delayed until at least Friday because paperwork issues were holding up the transport of Lima’s body from Los Angeles.
That came as news after the game to Reyes, and he was clearly disappointed. The Mets leave for Milwaukee after tonight’s game, so he won’t be able to attend.
“I wish it could have been [today],” he said.
That Reyes has had his friend’s death on his mind to the point that he was his teammates’ point person with the family certainly only makes his on-field performance this week that much more impressive.
For the first time this season, the excitable Mets shortstop has looked like his old self on the field - the versatile offensive sparkplug who could take over games in any number of ways before a hamstring injury sidelined him for most of last season.
Two nights ago Reyes showed he could still make things happen with his legs by bunting for a single, stealing two bases and scoring three runs. And last night Reyes proved he still has some pop by hitting his first home run since May 7, 2009. He also added a two-out RBI single in the sixth inning off reliever Chad Durbin. Including his 2-for-4 game last night, Reyes has nine hits in his last 19 at-bats.
He believes the difference in his game has been his legs, which he said finally feel 100 percent. He thinks it has taken this long in part because he didn’t play much in spring training because of a thyroid issue.
Yet the real challenge has been balancing his success with the emotions he’s feeling off the field. Four days have passed since Lima’s death and Reyes said he is still stunned. He said he always looked up to him largely because they grew up in the same town in the Dominican Republic.
“He was 37, man,” Reyes said after the Mets’ 5-0 win last night, shaking his head in disbelief. “You’re close to him and then you lose him. That’s tough.”
As hard as it is, Reyes said he hasn’t allowed himself to think about Lima’s death during games. “I have to separate them,” he said. “I know I have a job to do.”
And he’s done that job well, especially considering the emotions he’s dealing with. He said he has spoken about a lot about Lima’s death with his wife at home, and that has helped him focus on baseball at the park. Somehow, the on-field result has Reyes playing his best baseball in more than a year.