For Jose Reyes, there’s no place like home.
Home, in this case, is shortstop, the position he played the first 13 seasons of his career before rejoining the Mets to play third base in June 2016.
He has since bounced around between shortstop and third but has played shortstop exclusively since June 13.
Reyes has shown his appreciation for the change by going on an extended hot streak at the plate. Entering Saturday night, in 25 games since the Mets shuffled their infield, he had posted a .302/.358/.581 slash line with five doubles, three triples, five home runs, 11 RBIs and 13 runs scored.
He further boosted those numbers by going 2-for-4 with a solo home run to rightfield in the eighth inning in Saturday night’s 9-3 win over the Rockies at Citi Field.
“Well, I don’t think he’s chased as much,” manager Terry Collins said before the game. “I think he’s more disciplined at the plate, and I think that the fact that he’s playing shortstop on a regular basis eases the other side of his mind that’s worried about the defensive side.
“I think he’s very, very comfortable doing what he does best, play shortstop.”
Reyes singled to rightfield as part of a four-run first inning. After advancing to second on T.J. Rivera’s walk, he stole third and moved within one steal of becoming the 39th player in MLB history to reach 500.
The hot streak has raised questions about whether Collins will shuffle his lineup. Michael Conforto primarily has led off and Reyes has hit in the bottom third of the order.
Collins said he plans to stick with the current lineup, however, as bumping Conforto to the middle of the order could give the Mets three straight lefthanded hitters in Conforto, Jay Bruce and Lucas Duda and make the team susceptible to lefthanded pitching.
In 208 at-bats before June 13, Reyes struggled at the plate with a .188/.261/.293 slash line. His defense at third base wasn’t that bad, but his confidence at shortstop is undeniable.
“When Jose starts to get real quiet, you can tell there are things on his mind,” Collins said. “And there was a time where, you know, you just didn’t see that beaming smile that he normally has.”
His hot streak at the plate and relative defensive upside compared to Asdrubal Cabrera has allowed Reyes to continue to man shortstop, prompting Cabrera’s move to second base. Rivera has played third.
Reyes did mishandle a ground ball hit by DJ LeMahieu in the sixth inning Saturday night, ranging to his right but failing to field the ball cleanly. It was ruled an infield single but offered proof that he clearly doesn’t have the range he once did.
General manager Sandy Alderson told reporters before Friday night’s game that second baseman Neil Walker still is a week to 10 days away from returning from the disabled list. It’s uncertain how his health will impact the infield’s alignment.
For now, Collins will continue to roll with the fan favorite at shortstop.
Said Collins, “We’re seeing the guy we know was in there.”