The banner above the Mets’ clubhouse door, which reads, “DO YOUR THING” in bold, block letters, is only a few days old. After thinking for a moment who might be responsible for it, we walked over to the locker of our best guess.
“Yeah, it’s me,” Jose Reyes said, smiling, clearly proud of his handiwork.
The slogan is the English translation of a T-shirt Reyes already had made for the Mets, with “Has Tu Diligencia” scripted across the front, along with his personal trademark, a swirling tornado. Follow Reyes on either Twitter (lamelaza_7) or Instagram and you’ll see in those posts the ubiquitous cyclone, a fitting symbol for a player bursting with kinetic energy.
Upon his return to the Mets, Reyes certainly has done his thing, batting .338 (26-for-77) this month with 16 runs, five doubles, one triple and five RBIs in 17 games. In Tuesday’s win over the Marlins, Reyes had his second four-hit game in two weeks. The previous night, he helped manufacture the tying run, scoring on a wild pitch that nearly got his shoulder separated when Marlins’ reliever A.J. Ramos crashed on top of him.
For Reyes, that still was great fun, despite being very sore afterward. In fact, it’s been impossible to wipe the grin from Reyes’ face, even after a pair of uncharacteristic errors in Wednesday’s 5-2 victory. To say he’s grateful for the opportunity, for the second chance after his domestic-violence suspension, would barely be scratching the surface.
“When I come in here, it’s like a dream come true,” Reyes said. “I feel like I’m 21 again.”
The Mets are thankful that he’s turned back the clock on his performance, too. They desperately needed what he had to offer — the leadoff ability, the speed, the bubbly spirit. But this always had been a mutually beneficial relationship. For as much as Reyes gave to the Mets, and their emotional fan base, he also drew from the electricity that crackled in Queens. The wattage helped power him on a nightly basis, like Con Ed does for Times Square.
Knowing that, we asked Reyes if this resurgence, his career’s Second Act, would have been possible if he had signed somewhere else back in June. Would Reyes have sparked to life so quickly? Or did he need to be home again, back at his family’s house in Old Brookville, driving to Citi Field, where the feelings, the connection, remains strong?
“That’s a good question,” Reyes said, pausing for a moment. “Baseball is baseball, no matter where you play. But I do feel very comfortable here. That’s the bottom line. My family’s here, my friends, the fans like me. I never wanted to leave here in the first place.”
The Mets didn’t give him a choice after the 2011 season — or even a contract offer — before he ultimately accepted a six-year, $106-million deal from the Marlins. Reyes wound up happiest with the Blue Jays, then was devastated in July of 2015 when they abruptly shipped him to Colorado. Many believed Reyes was done after seeing his numbers plummet with the Rockies, but those critics didn’t factor in his mental collapse. Reyes admits now that he let the trade get to him. The smile disappeared as soon as he left Rogers Centre for Coors Field.
“I was crying on the plane,” Reyes said. “I was leaving everything in Toronto. My family was there. I couldn’t deal with it.”
So much of what Reyes does is fueled by his joy for the game. But at 33, he’s smarter now, too. After Yoenis Cespedes hit Monday’s walk-off homer, and flipped his helmet skyward as he approached the plate, Reyes wanted to make sure his celebration, amid the dancing teammates, didn’t put his sensitive quad muscle at risk. Surprisingly, it was Reyes, usually the jubilant ringleader, who tried to restrain Cespedes.
“We need you, man!” Reyes yelled at him.
The two have become fast friends, and frequent workout partners. When Reyes beat Cespedes to the park the other day — a rarity — he quickly dialed him up on FaceTime, asking where he was. Cespedes joined him in the weight room minutes later. Just two Mets doing their thing. Like the sign above the door days.
“So everybody can touch it on the way out,” Reyes said.
That thing, with Reyes on board, has been winning.