Reyes back to normal with strong 2nd half
New team. New stadium. New contract. Newfound publicity that included being on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
It didn't immediately translate into Jose Reyes looking like his old self.
The Marlins shortstop, who won the NL batting title with a .337 average last season for the New York Mets, was hitting a meager .226 on May 8. At the All-Star break, he was doing better, but still, at .264, was 28 points below his career average entering the season.
Well, things changed in a hurry. Reyes began the second half of the season with a 26-game hitting streak. Now, his average is up to .283, and he finally can breath a sigh of relief.
"This is my new team, my first year and new fans in the stadium," Reyes, a 10-year veteran who signed a six-year, $106 million contract with Miami last December, said about getting off to a shaky start. "It was probably a little bit exciting to me. After a little while, I just settled everything down."
Reyes, 29, sure has done just that. He's hitting .329 in the second half.
"I was very disappointed with the way I played in the first half because I know I'm a better player than the way I showed in the first half," Reyes said. "At the beginning (of the season), I was probably trying to do too much. I didn't let the game come to me …. But I've always believed in my talent. Every day, I was trying to put it together. I finally was able to put it together and play the game that I always play."
One problem, though, is not a lot of other Marlins have done likewise. After being 41-44 at the All-Star break and looking as if they could make a second-half run, the Marlins (55-67) are 14-23 in the second half.
It hasn't helped that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, utilityman Emilio Bonifacio and outfielder Logan Morrison have missed time due to injuries, Morrison being done for the season after having not played since July 28 due to a knee injury. Infielders Hanley Ramirez and Omar Infante and pitcher Anibal Sanchez all were traded in late July when the Marlins fell out of contention.
"We didn't play good baseball," said Reyes, not using injuries as an excuse for a season gone sour. "It's disappointing for me. It's disappointing for the team."
At least one of Miami's three big offseason signees is on the right track. Reliever Heath Bell has been a disaster, losing his job as the closer and having an ERA of 5.81. When starter Mark Buehrle won a game last Wednesday, it was his first victory in more than a month, although he still leads the team in that category with a 10-11 mark.
"He's hitting the ball everywhere," Miami first baseman Carlos Lee said of what Reyes has been doing since the All-Star break. "He will bunt. He will hit the ball the other way. He's swinging at strikes."
That certainly was evident during Reyes' 26-game hitting streak, the longest of his career, longest this season in the majors and the second longest in Marlins history. The streak finally was broken Aug. 9 at New York against his former team.
During the streak, Reyes hit .365 with five home runs, eight doubles and two triples. His batting average rose from .264 to .288 and his on-base percentage was .405.
"That was nice," Reyes said of the streak. "In a lot of games, it's hard to get a hit in one game. And when you do it 26 in a row, that's unbelievable."
As for Reyes getting his average back to around where it usually is, that's believable.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson