As expected, Jose Reyes will make his return to the Mets on Saturday afternoon against the Nationals, leading off against left-hander John Lannan. It will be Reyes’ first game since May 20 of last season. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York just tweeted the lineup a little earlier, but after all the stops and starts over the past year, I’m not going to believe it until I actually see it with my own two eyes.
You’ll have to forgive me for this fanboy moment, but I might be more excited about Reyes’ return than I was for Opening Day. To truly understand why this is, you’ll have to remember what he has represented to Mets fans ever since his debut as a raw and unpolished talent at the age of 19: Hope.
In 2003, Reyes was a much-needed shot in the arm to a fanbase stuck rooting for an aging (and losing) team that included the likes of Mike Piazza, Mo Vaughn, Jeromy Burnitz, Roberto Alomar, Rey Sanchez, Roger Cedeno, Al Leiter and John Franco. More broadly, while the above names were brought in via trade and free agency, Reyes was ours. A contrast. Homegrown. As a result, we’ve always taken a very specific form of pride when he scampers around the bases. We’ve also empathized with him through numerous health setbacks, from all the early problems with his legs to this most recent episode with his thyroid.
The impact of Reyes’ absence on the lineup over the past year has been patently obvious, but it’s also been a reminder of what he really means to the franchise. That being said, he’s no quick fix. He can’t be the Mets No. 2 starter, or their No. 3, No. 4 or No. 5, for that matter. But for one day, none of that stuff matters. And that’s a pretty powerful thing.
Adrian Beltre has been on the disabled list all year because of nagging right calf strain, but he’s about to take a big step toward getting back to action.
Beltre has been cleared to begin playing in extended spring training games. He’ll commence them tomorrow at the Rangers facility in Surprise, Arizona. After three games the team’s doctors will reevaluate him. If things go well, he’ll likely be sent off for a full minor league rehab assignment.
Joey Gallo has filled in for Beltre all season, bringing a lot of power but not much else to the table. While Beltre is 38, his all-around game would be welcomed back on the field and his leadership would be welcomed back in the Rangers clubhouse. On a personal note, Beltre is only 58 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.
Barring a setback, he’ll be back with the big club in early June and will hit the milestone eventually.
Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.
Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.
As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.
Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.