PHILADELPHIA — Before trotting out the quip in front of the television cameras after the game on Monday night, Mets manager Terry Collins tried it first with his slumping third baseman, Jose Reyes.
Even Reyes couldn’t stifle a laugh.
“I got the FBI looking for the real Jose Reyes,” Collins said.
They might have found him. Moved down into the seventh spot for the first time since 2005, Reyes ripped a double down the rightfield line Tuesday night against the Phillies.
Before his hit off a fading Clay Buchholz, Reyes’ average had dipped to .034 (1-for-29) to begin the season. He flied out in the first inning, when the Mets scored three runs as Buchholz muddled through 38 pitches.
But in the third, Reyes ripped his double and scored on Travis d’Arnaud’s single to center. That was his only hit as he went 1-for-6, which raised his average to .061.
“I haven’t seen this out of him,” Collins said.
Reyes always has been an aggressive hitter, and during his slump he has chased pitches out of the strike zone. But hitting coach Kevin Long said Reyes’ chase rate hasn’t been higher than usual. Instead, he said Reyes has been overswinging.
“You’re not used to seeing a veteran player press and try really, really hard,” Long said before the game. “He’s coming out of it. He knows it, too. I just don’t know when.”
Reyes downplayed his move down the lineup, though he acknowledged that he had been pressing at the plate.
“It’s not the first time it’s happened to me,” said Reyes, who last started a game batting seventh on July 5, 2005.
In the past, Collins has benched scuffling hitters for a game or more, calling them mental-health breaks designed to ease the stress of a slump. But he indicated that Reyes would be allowed to hit his way out of his slump.
For Reyes, seeing his name in the lineup was a relief, even if he was hitting seventh.
Said Reyes: “I want to be there, I want to play.”