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Healthy Reyes happy to be back with Blue Jays

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DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP)

Jose Reyes reported to Blue Jays camp two days early, donning a Superman T-shirt, a wide grin and an optimistic attitude on what he expects will be a much improved season.

The four-time All-Star shortstop spent much of the morning Tuesday working out and joking with teammates in the clubhouse.

''We're very excited about this year, because last year was a tough year for me and for the whole team,'' Reyes said. ''This year, I feel like I'm 100 percent and back to normal. I just can't wait to go to the field and do what I do best, and help this ballclub get where we need to get.''

The speedy Reyes was limited to just 92 games last season because of a broken ankle. Hurt in April, he says the injury continued to nag him after he returned from the disabled list in June.

But with more time to rehab, Reyes says his ankle has gotten ''way better.'' He says he is not worried about what kind of effects the artificial turf at Rogers Centre could have on it.

''I feel like this offseason, I was able to move how I wanted to,'' Reyes said. ''Last year, it was kind of tough for me. Running the bases, going from first to second. Stuff like that bothered me a little bit. But this year, it's not a concern at all.''

Reyes said he is eager turn the page on the past two years, which he described as the hardest of his major league career.

After spending his first eight seasons with the New York Mets, Reyes opted become a free agent in 2011. He signed a six-year, $106 million contract with the Marlins, believing a revamped roster could help them contend for a World Series title.

But after the Marlins stumbled to a 69-93 record, Reyes was shipped to Toronto along with pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle as part of an offseason purge by Miami to dump salary.

The results didn't get much better for Reyes in a new uniform. Picked by many to be playoff contenders, the Blue Jays were crippled by injuries and poor starting pitching and finished 74-88, last in the AL East.

''It is tough, because you come with high expectations in spring training,'' Reyes said. ''But in baseball, you never know what's going to happen. You have to put it in the past. This is a new year.''

Reyes said he kept in touch with sluggers Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera during the offseason. And while it won't be easy, they agree if the Blue Jays continue to build chemistry, they can contend in the division and return to the playoffs.

''We just need to put it together on the field,'' Reyes said. ''If we put it all together - pitching, hitting, out there on the field - why can we not compete? The team is still here. We still have the star players that we need to have. We just need to stay healthy and go from there.''

NOTES: Manager John Gibbons announced that knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will be the team's opening day starter for the second consecutive season, on March 31 against the Tampa Bay Rays. ''It'll be Dickey opening up in (St. Petersburg), where he has pitched very well,'' Gibbons said. ''He's had some good outings down there and he's our guy.'' Gibbons said he has not yet determined the rest of the rotation order. ... CF Colby Rasmus and 3B Brett Lawrie also stopped by the clubhouse. ... The Jays signed OF Brett Carroll to a minor league contract. Carroll, 31, is expected to report to Triple-A Buffalo.

Tagged: Pirates, Brett Carroll, Blue Jays, Jose Reyes

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