There’s a bad habit that pops up in the early stretches of the baseball season — the one in which observers read too deeply into these early returns. Those long winter nights finally are over and every success is magnified; every failure, in turn, seems to portend bad things for the summer months to come.
So it is with a metric ton of salt that we point out that these first four games have not been very kind to Jose Reyes. There’s been weak contact and unfruitful plate appearances and only a lone hit in that time, a single. He’s hitting .056, has struck out five times in 18 at-bats and looks generally uncomfortable at the plate. Above all, the leadoff hitter has been on base only twice (he’s scored twice).
Read into all of that what you will, but Terry Collins, at least, refuses to let any of that faze him.
“I think Jose was so excited to be back here, to be back in the lineup, and especially Opening Day, the place he loves to play, that I think he’s trying to overdo it a little bit,” Collins said before Reyes’ latest contribution, an 0-for-5 against the Marlins on Friday night. “He’s hit the ball around the ballpark and he’s going to get into it, there’s no doubt in my mind. He’s going to settle in.”
It’s no secret why he’s so eager. Reyes has said that after his domestic-violence arrest in October 2015, he thought his career might have been over.
When the Mets gave him his chance, he brought with him an aircraft carrier worth of bad baggage. His wife refused to press charges, but his legal woes weren’t over. His attorney was in court earlier this week battling an ex-mistress suing for more child support (a judge denied the request).
And though issues at the plate certainly pale in comparison with all of that, it does appear that Reyes desperately wants to show he can repay the Mets for the opportunity they gave him. He happily moved from shortstop to third, and it’s likely he’ll have to move again, at least sporadically, to centerfield.
“I talked to him today about — there’s a situation right now without any more righthanded-hitting outfielders that we might have to revisit him playing centerfield,” Collins said. “He’s athletic enough and he gets it, and all he wants to do is play.”
Collins added that one of the reasons he’s not worried about Reyes is his demeanor. Despite the black mark on his record, he presents very much in the same way he did when he was a rookie in 2003, when fans were won over by his broad smile and energetic personality.
“You walk in the clubhouse, he’s always got a smile, even after he’s 0-for-12,” Collins said. “He comes back the next day with a smile on his face and ready to play. That takes a veteran probably to do that, especially here. He’s the one guy that can do it, and I think it loosens up the clubhouse to have that personality in there.”