With the Mets in first place, the fans who were clamoring for a Jose Reyes return have been less audible. The shortstop returned to Citi Field as a member of the Colorado Rockies, his third team since leaving the Mets as a free agent after the 2011 season.
Some fans will note that Reyes has played more games at Citi Field in 2015 than David Wright. The shortstop also returned to Flushing for two games as a Blue Jay. However, New York is in a pennant race while Reyes is playing for another struggling team.
This isn’t to say that anyone points to the middle infield as the Mets strength or that Reyes is the lone reason that the teams he’s been on have floundered. But while Ruben Tejada and new fan favorite Wilmer Flores are seeing time in big games, Reyes is on the decline.
Reyes was the NL batting champion in 2011, the one season he played for Terry Collins. Although he’s hitting .274 this season, the shortstop still makes the Mets skipper nervous.
“He’s the same player,” Collins said before Thursday’s game. “I mean he’s obviously four years older than we had him, but he’s still dangerous.”
Citi Field was designed to take advantage of Reyes’ speed, and the shortstop tripled a league-high 16 times in 2011. Many fans criticized the Mets for not making an attempt to sign him back or even trade him at the deadline to get something in return.
Not only did Reyes leave, he signed with the division rival Miami Marlins for six years and $106 million. Sports Illustrated predicted that the Marlins would make the playoffs but Miami would finish 69-93.
The Marlins traded Reyes and four other players to Toronto. The Blue Jays would finish last in the AL East in 2013. Injuries limited the shortstop to 93 games.
Reyes was injured on Opening Day 2014, although he played in 143 games and hit a respectable .287 as Toronto finished third in the AL East.
Several days before the trade deadline, Reyes was sent to the last-place Colorado Rockies. The Blue Jays have not a lost a game with new shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in the lineup and Toronto has overtaken the Yankees for the lead in the AL East.
The Mets have taken the first three games from Colorado, with Reyes going 1-for-4 in each game.
“He’s still a threat and I’m worried every time he walks up there that he’s going to hit a triple, because I saw a lot of them,” Collins said.
The four-time All-Star is still popular with Mets fans, having been one of the best players on the last Met playoff team in 2006. The shortstop has also stated that he would like to finish his career as a Met.
Reyes is now 32, so if he ever returned it would have to be in a bench role like Rusty Staub and Lee Mazzilli took on when they returned to Flushing.
The once dynamic Reyes doesn’t have one triple this season. The memory of a young Reyes as a Met flying around the bases from 2003-11 is still vivid. Even in the second half of his career, he still excites some viewers.
“He’s still fun to watch to me,” Collins said. “I enjoy watching him play. I hope he’s 0-for-4 again and he has another bad series next week, but other than that I hope he does great.”