Leading (Off) For the New York Mets: Jose Reyes

Pro Football NYCSenior Writer IJune 23, 2008

SS Will Flourish in Post-Willie Era

from mrflushing.com


It's no secret that when Willie Randolph sought to discipline his team, the first, and sometimes only, stop was Jose Reyes's locker. Most times, Willie's comments were duly warranted. Other times, he just wanted to light a fire under his talented shortstop.

Many saw this practice in different lights. Veterans that needed to be 'refocused' were ignored, and others felt Randolph was unnecessarily picking on Reyes because of his light-hearted nature. Either way, the approach was not working.

Randolph is gone now and Reyes and his teammates have to deal with straight-shooter Jerry Manuel. The new manager is not apprehensive around veterans like Randolph was, and every player knows they can be benched or moved down in the lineup if their performance declines.

They also know that Manuel does not see color or race as an advantage or a crutch. Everyone is going to take responsibility for the team's performance.

Reyes found out very quickly about Manuel's style. In the first inning of Manuel's first game as manager, Reyes was yanked from the field when Manuel thought he was hurt. The reaction by Reyes was one of defiance, but by the end of that game, the team got the message: Manuel will pull the trigger faster than Willie. He will make quick and decisive decisions.

That philosophy alone is enough to ignite the Mets' igniter—Jose Reyes. He won't be the focus of the manager's frustration because there are no more whipping boys. Manuel is going just bench players if he doesn't like what he sees. This has put the team on its toes and they have won five of the last seven.

But winning for the Mets begins with Jose Reyes. He has been heating up as of late (.327 in the past month), and Manuel is going to build on that. Reyes led off both Saturday and Sunday's game with a triple.

His recent efforts are burying his slow start. Right now, Reyes seems to have been recharged at the plate, in the field, and on the bases. He is hitting .294 with 90 hits (including 8 HRs, 20 doubles, and eight triples) and has 26 steals. When Reyes hits, the Mets are hard to beat.

Reyes, under Manuel, is not only the team's catalyst; he is now considered the team's leader. Randolph treated Jose like a boy—and some of it was deserved. Manuel treats everyone like a man, and he wants Reyes to be to the Mets what Derek Jeter is to the Yankees: a leader on and off the field. This Mets team has no anointed leader. Manuel is not going to stand for that. Reyes is his man.

Yahoo Notes

Jerry Manuel said “probably not,” on whether bruised and battered catcher Brian Schneider will play Monday when the team returns home to start a three-game series with Seattle.

“I plan on playing (Monday),” Schneider said matter-of-factly, holding up his left hand, swollen after taking a Todd Helton foul tip.

“It’s part of being a catcher. You’re going to take your bumps and bruises. I’m not the only one that gets them. It’s just one of those things where you’re going to get in the wrong place sometimes. You move on, and you live on.”

It’s been a rough season so far for Schneider, who missed much of Spring Training with a pulled hamstring, and during the season has missed three games with a bruised, left forearm and eight games with an infected left thumb that required him to be hospitalized.

“It’s got to take something pretty bad to take myself out of a game,” Schneider said. “I try to stay in as much as possible. Just toward the end of the game, the swelling got in there and it got real sore. It was hurting to swing the bat.”

Mets 3-Rockies 1: Mike Pelfrey continued his strong pitching, and backed by Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, won his second straight start.

Pelfrey gave up three hits in five-and-two-thirds scoreless innings. However, he did walk five.

Carlos Beltran hit his third homer of the Mets’ six-game road trip.

Notes, Quotes

• 2B Luis Castillo is day-to-day with a strained left thigh. “I don’t see Luis moving as well as I’d like to see him,” manager Jerry Manuel said. The disabled list is currently not being considered, but Manuel said it could be if this drags.

• C Brian Schneider is day-to-day with a bruised left hand. Schneider took a foul tip off the pinky side of his hand Saturday night. Schneider said he hopes to play Monday when the Mets return home against Seattle, but manager Jerry Manuel said “probably not.”

• LHP Johan Santana (7-5, 3.04) will make his 16th start of the season Monday against Seattle at Shea Stadium. Santana will be making his 10th career start against the Mariners. He is 7-1 with a 2.92 ERA lifetime against Seattle.

• RF Ryan Church is expected to take batting practice Monday. Barring complications, Church could begin a brief rehab assignment for Class-A Brooklyn, and he might rejoin the team next weekend for the series against the Yankees.

• LF Moises Alou, on the disabled list with a strained left calf, might begin hitting at the end of the week. Manager Jerry Manuel said he must look at anything Alou gives the Mets this season as a bonus. “I have to plan it that way,” Manuel said.

By The Numbers: 18—Assists by the Mets outfielders, first in the National League and second in the majors to Minnesota.

Quote To Note: “I’ll be on the first step of the dugout when he warms up.”—New Mets manager Jerry Manuel, on the inconsistency of Oliver Perez.