Jose Reyes is a veteran in the Mets clubhouse. Manager Terry Collins values that leadership and smile and how Reyes is tuned into helping the youngsters with a transition of a Mets roster that went from old to young. Friday night at Citi Field, and after his 10th multi-home run game of his career, there was Reyes with the smile.
He was asked about being the veteran. “Does that mean I’m old,” he said with that smile. Reyes is the second-oldest Met on the roster behind Norichika Aoki, in his second tenure with the Mets. But this is not the 19-year old Jose Reyes who remembers having veterans guiding him during that first tenure at Shea Stadium.
Lately, Reyes has been playing like a youngster with that veteran status. He’s healthy and getting on base as the Mets play out the string. His first home run Friday night in the third inning set the tone, the 100th as a Met. In the fifth inning the long shot to left paved with the way for a Mets 5-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds and both came from the right side.
“Just seeing the ball good and getting good pitches to hit,” he said. “That’s been the difference.” And over his last 15 games, Reyes is batting .385 with three home runs, four doubles, and eight RBI.
In this clubhouse of transition, and with the future of manager Terry Collins uncertain, Reyes has become the leader and mentor to rookie Amed Rosario who sat out his fifth game with a bruised right index finger. Reyes is there and talks to the youngster and that is what Rosario needs in his brief time at the big league level.
“We have the communication,” said Reyes. “Anytime he needs it I’m here to help him.” That’s more than enough for the manager to hear. But it also spreads to the other Mets rookies in that clubhouse who see that leadership.
So with this transition, and with Reyes signed through the end of this dismal season, is it worth signing the veteran to another one-year contract? The Mets are not commenting on plans for next season as they evaluate performance in these final weeks, though it is set that Rosario is the future at shortstop and Dominic Smith at first base.
Reyes is the four-time NL All-Star, won a batting title in 2011, and the Mets franchise leader in stolen bases, though not with the legs of a 20-year old. What matters now is that leadership and it won’t hurt to bring back a veteran to a Mets team that will be much younger next year.
And for that matter, there is that communication with Rosario who is looking more comfortable in the clubhouse which is without a doubt coming from that mentor Jose Reyes. And before the injury, Rosario was adapting more at the plate and not going after bad pitches.
Two home runs made a statement for Jose Reyes. As with every at bat and play for these Mets, it is audition time for next year. But for Jose Reyes there is no audition when it comes to this leadership and veteran presence.
He smiled and wore the crown and robe again in the clubhouse as the hero with a multi-home run game. Rosario sat by his locker and answered some text messages, and then Jose Reyes tapped him on the shoulder.
The leader was doing his job in the clubhouse and the veteran has proved to be worthy for a return at a minimal price next year.