On the list of rapidly multiplying miseries for Jose Reyes, seeing him drop that game-changing pop-up Tuesday night in the eighth inning, watching it clang right off his glove, was the topper. Thanks to Reyes’ shocking gaffe, the Phillies tied the score at 2 when Andres Blanco, the next batter, hit a ground-rule double and then went on to win, 6-2, in extra innings.
The Reyes’ blunder, stacked high on his terrible turns at the plate, surely ignited the same knee-jerk reaction throughout Mets Nation, from the loud groans at Citi Field to thrown remotes and spilled beverages at home.
The semi-rational would suggest to bench Reyes. The ultra-emotional might want him gone altogether. The Mets are on a bad bender right now, losing four straight, and the slumping Reyes is the most obvious scapegoat because, frankly, he’s been awful so far this season. The vitriol hurled in his direction is understandable.
But it’s also way too early to write off a proven impact player whom the Mets were counting on to help them get back to the World Series, or the playoffs, at the very least. Terry Collins already has dropped Reyes from the leadoff spot, and given him an extra day off or two to clear his head, but that’s as far as he plans to go for the immediate future. Reyes, who is hitting .100 (5-for-50) after Tuesday’s double, will continue to play, because the Mets can’t afford to make him a non-entity after only 14 games.
“One thing you have to be careful of with a veteran player, and that’s looking like you’re giving up on him,” Collins said afterward. “That’s not going to happen here.”
We’ll add one disclaimer: It’s not going to happen now. Or in a week or maybe even a month. But the Mets can’t say for certain that it’s outside the realm of possibility. If Reyes truly is consumed by any off-field issues, such as being sued for child support by a woman who isn’t his wife, then maybe it does reach a point where he can’t help the Mets. And one factor that does make such a transaction easier — the Mets are only paying him $545,000 this season, so cutting him loose would cost them relatively little in the grand scheme of things.
But that’s looking a bit too far ahead, under the presumption that Reyes doesn’t snap out of this funk. And he’s at such a low point now, that there’s really only one way to go. Tuesday night’s drop felt like rock bottom, both for how shockingly uncharacteristic the mistake was for Reyes and also how it led to the Mets losing the game.
Freddy Galvis’ pop-up should have ended the eighth and stranded Cameron Rupp at first base. It was a routine play. But as the ball came down, Reyes kept moving to within about 25 feet of the plate — and closer to Travis d’Arnaud, who stood and watched. Just as Reyes put up his glove to catch it, for whatever reason, he sort of stabbed at the ball and it caromed off his glove, rolling toward the Mets’ on-deck circle.
Reyes looked stunned when it popped out. He had to be extremely embarrassed. But after the crushing loss, and his starring role in it, Reyes was waiting at his locker when the clubhouse door opened, ready to face the questions. In a spot many players might duck away from, Reyes faced the music like the pro he’s always been.
“That was my ball,” Reyes said. “I have to catch it. Anytime I have a ball like that, I have to take charge of the situation.”
Later, d’Arnaud suggested he might have been a little too close to Reyes, and it’s possible the third baseman flinched in seeing him at the last second. But Reyes wouldn’t use that as an excuse, and promised he’d turn things around soon. Before Tuesday’s game, Reyes was out early for extra batting practice, and he looked like his All-Star self in lashing a fourth-inning double to the right-centerfield gap.
If the Mets held on to win Tuesday, the conversation would have been about Reyes showing a glimmer of hope. Instead, it was just the opposite. Where it goes from here depends on Reyes.