“We toyed a little bit with that last year,” Manuel said. “And the reason for that is that in his evolution as a player, I think he’s ready for that. If it’s something that we need, if it’s something that fits for us, I think he’s ready for that. And I think he can handle that.”
Reyes prides himself on being one of the game’s most explosive leadoff hitters and has hit below the top spot in only 20 of his 791 career games. He also has never batted third in a major-league game. Manuel used him a handful of times in the No. 3 slot during spring training a year ago – something that Reyes didn’t particularly like – but switched him back in time for Opening Day.
When asked Friday, Reyes did not seem to have a problem with the potential move. He played only 36 games last season because of a torn hamstring tendon and eventual torn hamstring muscle, then needed surgery to clean out the scar tissue from that right leg in October.
“I’ll do it,” Reyes said. “If they say that’s going to be better for the team, I’m going to do it. Whatever is best for the team, I’m going to be open to do it.”
Manuel is revisiting the plan again this year because of the absence of Carlos Beltran, who is likely to miss the first two months of the season after knee surgery. If Manuel does drop Reyes to third, he could use either Angel Pagan or Luis Castillo atop the order, setting up three straight switch-hitters. One Mets official suggested they could then use
“Reyes, in my opinion, has evolved so that he could be a legitimate No. 3 hitter on a good team,” Manuel said. “I think there will be more emphasis on driving in runs than say accumulating a high number of stolen bases. I would love to see him as a third hitter – assuming all the other parts fit.”