The Mets won’t know for sure about the health of Jose Reyes until he swaps yesterday’s Santa hat for a baseball cap and starts playing again. But a full two months after surgery to clean up scar tissue around his right hamstring tendon, the All-Star shortstop is showing progress, and that’s a major improvement from his backward status of last season.
“There’s no doubt I’m supposed to be the same Jose Reyes,” he said. “The doctor says I should be 100 percent and I should recover my speed. I don’t know if I’ll recover right away, but I’m working for that. There’s no doubt in my mind that if I’m healthy, I’ll be able to do the stuff that I before.”
Looking back, it appears that having the surgery was critical for Reyes, who seemed to put off the decision. Reyes never returned after he went on the disabled list May 26 — despite a few ill-fated attempts — and each setback only aggravated the condition, ending with a hamstring muscle tear in September. The tendon surgery may have been just as important for Reyes mentally as it was physically.
“I’m real happy,” Reyes said, “because the doctor says it was that I have the surgery because I had a lot of damage in the back on my knee. I just can’t wait until spring training starts, because I feel this season was a lost season for me.”
Things won’t get much better for the Mets this year if Reyes, 26, is forced to play at anything less than his optimal speed. But his rehabilitation remains in the early stages. Reyes has been limited to light running during his three-hour workouts at a Long Island facility near his home as he focuses on building strength in his legs.
“Right now, we’re working on my mechanics,” Reyes said, “because my mechanics are a little bit off right now because after surgery I don’t have power in my legs.”
Reyes plans to do some hitting when he returns to the Dominican Republic this weekend for the holidays and expects to be running at full-speed by Jan. 1. He also intends on showing up early for spring training. Reyes hasn’t played in a major-league game since May 20 in Los Angeles. Reyes was batting .279 at the time, but the Mets were only one game out of first place behind the Phillies.
“I tried everything to come back on the field, but it didn’t work that way,” Reyes said. “Right now, you just have to put everything the past.”