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Mets' Jose Reyes embraces challenge of super utility job

Jose Reyes of the New York Mets does

Jose Reyes of the New York Mets does fielding drills during a workout session at Professional Athletic Performance Center in Garden City, NY on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. Credit: James Escher

Jose Reyes isn’t sure what position he’s going to play for the Mets this season. But he’s in a much better position than he was last year at this time, when, as he put it on Wednesday, “I don’t even know if I’ll be playing baseball anymore.”

Last February, Reyes was in baseball limbo. A member of the Colorado Rockies, he was on paid administrative leave following his Oct. 31, 2015, arrest in Hawaii on domestic violence charges. The charges were dropped in April, but Reyes was suspended by Major League Baseball until May 31 and eventually released by Colorado. He signed with the Mets on June 25 and finished the season as the team’s third baseman in the absence of injured captain David Wright.

“This is going to be different for me, going to spring training not knowing what position I’m going to play,” Reyes said after a workout at Professional Athletic Performance Center in Garden City. “I’m looking forward. It’s something new.”

This year, the Mets are hoping Wright can play the majority of games at third. So Reyes could end up being a super utilityman, moving around the infield and even seeing time in the outfield for the first time in his career.

“One-hundred percent this year’s going to be way better than last year,” Reyes said. “With all the stuff that I went through last year and I just played a couple of games in the minor leagues and I was thrown into the fire right away, I feel like I did a real good job even though I didn’t have any spring training or nothing. As a baseball player, you need to be in spring training. You need to work on whatever you need to work [on] to get ready for the season. I think this year, there’s no doubt in my mind it’s going to be way better than last year.”

Reyes said he’s planning to take some fly balls on Thursday in preparation for a crash course in centerfield he expects to get when he reports to Port St. Lucie, Florida, in two weeks. The last time Reyes played the outfield was never.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s going to be a new experience for me. I’m looking for the challenge. I’m healthy right now. My body feels good. I’m in great shape. I don’t see why not. Whatever [manager] Terry [Collins] needs me to do to help this ballclub, I’m going to be open to do it.”

Reyes, 33, hit .267 with eight home runs and 24 RBIs in 60 games in 2016. He made six errors in 50 games at third. If Wright is healthy, Reyes’ playing time could be limited. But there’s no guarantee Wright, with his back and neck issues, will be healthy.

“We just want David to be on the ballclub, to be healthy,” Reyes said. “I know if he’s healthy, he’s going to contribute to this ballclub. I’m looking forward to seeing him in spring training and hopefully he’ll be ready to go. He’s the third baseman for the New York Mets.”

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