Jose Reyes was smiling and chatting away in front of his locker, preparing to get dressed for the upcoming road trip.
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The good news was written all over his face.
Tests on Reyes’ tight left hamstring revealed a Grade 1 strain, the mildest kind, and the star shortstop might be able to return to the New York Mets’ lineup in a few days.
”Just a little bit of a strain. I mean, nothing big,” Reyes said. ”I know we’re going to take it one day at a time and see what happens, but it’s real good news. Today when I got up, I felt even better than yesterday. So that’s very good news.”
Reyes was set to travel with the Mets to the West Coast, where they wrap up the first half of the season with four games against the Los Angeles Dodgers and three in San Francisco this week.
New York manager Terry Collins said he hopes Reyes might be ready to play Tuesday, though it’s possible he could end up sitting out all week before the All-Star break.
”We have to take it one day at a time,” general manager Sandy Alderson said. ”We’re not making any predictions at the moment.”
Still, there was no mention of putting Reyes on the disabled list – a positive sign for a key player with a history of long-term leg injuries.
”We’ll just see how he responds and the symptoms he demonstrates over the next few days,” Alderson said. ”I’m sure he’ll want to play. I’m sure he’ll want to play in the All-Star game, etc. That’s something we have to look at.”
Reyes was out of the lineup Sunday as the team anxiously awaited test results on his injured leg.
He left Saturday’s game against the Yankees after two innings with tightness in his left hamstring. He went for an MRI on Sunday morning before arriving at Citi Field for treatment.
”Right now I don’t feel anything,” Reyes said after the game. ”But like I said, I (didn’t) do anything today, just rest.”
With the Mets trying to avoid a Subway Series sweep, Ruben Tejada started at shortstop and switch-hitting center fielder Angel Pagan replaced Reyes in the leadoff spot.
”Until I know he’s clean, he’s not playing,” Collins said before the game.
Down to their last strike, the Mets rallied against Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning before winning 3-2 in the 10th on Jason Bay’s single.
”I was jumping right here. I was watching right here,” Reyes said in front of his locker. ”That’s a huge win for us.”
Reyes was elected by fans to start for the National League in the All-Star game July 12. Whether he’ll be healthy enough to play remains to be seen.
If he has to miss the game, it would be the third time in four All-Star selections that Reyes sits out because of injury.
”Everybody wants to be there, wants to play,” Reyes said. ”Hopefully, I feel better in a couple of days.”
The speedy switch-hitter can become a free agent after the World Series, and it appeared he was primed to cash in on a scintillating season. Last month, Reyes informed the Mets he wasn’t interested in negotiating a new contract during the season, saying he wanted to keep his focus on the field.
He said he wasn’t worried about getting hurt because injuries are a part of the game, and some took his stance as a sign that he’s eager to test the open market next fall.
The 28-year-old Reyes has been one of baseball’s best players all year, a big reason the banged-up Mets have been able to hover around .500.
He began the day leading the majors with a .354 batting average, 124 hits, 15 triples and 43 multihit games. He had 30 stolen bases and led the NL with 65 runs scored.
Losing him for an extended stretch would be a huge blow to the Mets, already missing star third baseman David Wright and first baseman Ike Davis because of injuries.
”It’ll be a challenge but I think we’re going to be up for it,” Collins said. ”We’ve dealt with some adversity so far this season. We’re resilient. We’ll bounce back. And then when we find out what the situation is going to be with him today, we’ll make sure that our guys are ready to play.” Collins said he would speak to his team about forging ahead without Reyes, even if it’s just for a short time.
”This guy’s such a big part of the puzzle that you’ve got to say something,” the manager said.
In the meantime, Collins expects New York’s veterans to step up and show leadership. And he wants his players to stay within themselves.
”You can’t change what you’ve been doing. You cannot get out of your plan,” Collins said.
Reyes changed at his locker Sunday and appeared to be walking comfortably as he strolled through the clubhouse.
A day before, he felt tightness in his hamstring while running out an infield single in the first inning. He was removed in the top of the third, replaced by Tejada at shortstop.
Leg injuries limited Reyes to 53 games in 2004 and 36 games in 2009, but he said Saturday this is the first problem he’s had with his left hamstring.
NOTES: The Mets optioned outfielder Fernando Martinez to Triple-A Buffalo and activated utility man Willie Harris from the bereavement list.