When the Mets signed Jose Reyes on June 25, skeptics spoke out stridently. Many believed he could no longer contribute to a major league club at age 33, and that he wasn’t worth the public relations nightmare having served a suspension for a domestic violence incident.
But Reyes is making his second chance count, as he’s provided a much-sought-after spark at the top of the Mets’ batting order. Reyes has failed to reach base only once since joining the team on July 5 (15 games), and boasts an impressive .509 slugging percentage to go with his .242 average. He’s also given the Mets some speed on the bases, as he’s swiped three bags in four tries. His defense at third base hasn’t been stellar, but that’s to be expected as the Mets experiment with Reyes at the hot corner.
As for the regrettable domestic violence incident, Reyes has spoken candidly with the media, expressing remorse as he tries to put the past behind him.
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“I need to be a better man,” Reyes told reporters recently. “I made a terrible mistake. I say sorry to my wife, my dad, my mom, to everybody. They know I’m a better person than that.”
Reyes continued, “I paid my suspension to MLB. I went to counseling. I’m going to continue…counseling, whatever it takes. They will see a man who stands up for his mistake.”
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, who advocated baseball’s newly-minted system for reviewing domestic violence cases, offered his support to Reyes as he attempts to resurrect his career.
“I understand people’s mixed reaction, but I do think that, in general, we live in a society where people believe in second chances,” Manfred recently said at a charity event. “I know that Jose committed himself to the educational and counseling component of his discipline.”
Since Reyes returned to the Mets clubhouse, Assistant GM John Ricco has noticed an improvement in player morale.
“You can see the difference he’s making, just being back home, and having that bounce in his step,” he told USA Today. “He gets off that bus, he’s upbeat, positive, and has good energy. That’s definitely invigorating for a team.”
“I feel like I never left,” Reyes said, “but at the same time I feel like this is a dream. I still can’t believe I’m part of the New York Mets again. Never in my mind did I think I’d be back in the same organization that saw me grow as a player, and as a man.”
Terry Collins realizes the sample size remains small on Reyes, but he believes Reyes will be a great contributor to the Mets as the season progresses.
“This guy is going to help us,” Collins declared after Sunday’s 3-0 win over the Marlins in which Reyes hit an RBI-triple. “When he gets 150 at-bats, you are going to see a dynamic leadoff hitter.”
“Last year was [my] worst year in the big leagues, with everything that happened,” Reyes said. “This year, if we could get back to the World Series, [it] would be my greatest year, a dream come true.”