Jose Reyes reported to Mets camp yesterday ahead of schedule, stepped onto a field for the first time since August, and declared himself back to “normal” again after missing all but 36 games last season with a torn hamstring.
Reyes said that he’s “been feeling very good” lately and admitted that he “tried to come back too soon” at the training staff’s urging last season, leading to a partial tear becoming a full tear that required surgery.
Here’s a longer Reyes quote, from Adam Rubin’s article in the New York Daily News:
I have to think it’s over. I’m working for that. I’m working so hard to try to stay healthy. I have to be strong in my mind. Hopefully that will never happen again. I’m really happy just to be here. It’s exciting just to be on the field for the first time.
Given all the Mets’ problems last year it seems kind of silly to point to one player’s return as crucial, but in the previous three seasons Reyes batted .292 with a .355 on-base percentage and .461 slugging percentage while averaging 66 extra-base hits, 66 steals, and 118 runs. Getting that production atop the lineup and his strong defense at shortstop for 150 games this year would go a long way toward turning the team around.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.
Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:
I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.
The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.
The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.