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Reyes has least severe hamstring strain

New York Mets' Jose Reyes runs to first

New York Mets' Jose Reyes runs to first base safely beating the throw to New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira in the first inning of a baseball game at Citi Field in New York. Reyes left the game early after he felt tightness in his left hamstring while running to first base. (July 2, 2011) Credit: AP

At first, the specter of what the Mets might be missing was everywhere -- from the questions Terry Collins faced about his injured All-Star shortstop, to the lineup card that featured one prominent omission, to the colorful Jose Reyes T-shirt that Sunday's starter, R.A. Dickey, wore around the clubhouse.

But the pall that had pervaded a fan base that seemed cursed by injuries to Mets players in the past several seasons was at least partially lifted Sunday as Reyes was diagnosed with a Grade 1 left hamstring strain, the least severe.

"I think it's good," Reyes said. "There's a little bit of a strain, nothing big."

Collins said that after an MRI at the Hospital for Special Surgery Sunday morning, doctors recommended Reyes not play Sunday. He's officially day-to-day, but the next time he will play still is quite uncertain.

With a road trip to the West Coast next on the team's agenda, Collins said he'll be cautious about when he finally redeploys Reyes.

"I'm really leery of the six-hour trip out West and having to bounce back from that," he said. "So I'll wait to see how he is in Los Angeles, 'cause it'll be warm. I'm hoping that maybe Tuesday he'll be ready."

Collins initially allowed that not playing Reyes until perhaps after the All-Star break was a "possibility," and general manager Sandy Alderson said, "It's conceivable, but we're not making any predictions at the moment."

Before the Mets' 3-2, 10-inning win over the Yankees, Collins seemed determined not to bring Reyes back too soon.

"Until I know he's clean, he's not playing," he said. "If it's a day-by-day thing, if it looks like it's going to be three or four days, do you even pinch hit him? What if he hits a ball in the gap?"

For that matter, Reyes, who can be a free agent after the season, doesn't seem especially eager to throw caution to the wind and return early.

"I have to make sure I'm going to be ready to go," he said. "I don't want to go to the game and play one inning, two innings and have to come out of the game. So when I go to play, I have to make sure that my leg is going to be able to stay for a full game."

Considering the losses the Mets have taken the last few seasons, and the hits to their lineup this year alone -- including sluggers David Wright and Ike Davis -- suffering another casualty in Reyes could have been truly devastating.

That's why Carlos Beltran was particularly glad about the way the Mets' fill-in lineup performed Sunday.

"I think it was great being able to win without Reyes," he said. "Sometimes we depend so much on him. But at the same time, we depend on every single guy in this ballclub . . . Every time you rely on only one guy, it's very difficult to win ballgames, so it was good."

Though he likely wouldn't want to make it a habit.

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