SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Jose Reyes took the last of his dozen-or-so swings, stepped out of the batting cage and did a little dance to the beat of the music playing from a small radio in the grass near his feet.
Nearing the end of a 59-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, the Colorado Rockies shortstop was back on the field Thursday, albeit in Arizona.
“It’s good to be on the field and put that stuff behind me,” Reyes said at the Rockies’ spring training facility. “I’m sorry. I made a mistake and will stand here like a man. I just have to try to be a better man, a better husband.”
Reyes did not participate in spring training and was suspended through May 31 after being charged with domestic violence for an altercation with his wife in Hawaii last October. Prosecutors dropped the charge before a scheduled April 4 trial after saying Reyes’ wife was not cooperating. Reyes became the second player to be suspended under baseball’s new domestic violence policy – with New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman – and will lose close to $7 million of his $22 million salary while sitting out.
“I put myself in this situation and I’m sorry about it,” Reyes said. “I need to put this in the past and continue with my life and my career. Human beings make mistakes. Like I said, I’m sorry to put Rockies fans in this kind of situation.”
Reyes stood out at Colorado’s extended spring training, not just with his purple workout shirt among the gray-shirted youngsters, but with his slick fielding and quick bat.
The four-time All-Star spent about two hours on the Rockies’ back fields, working with some of the younger players while fielding grounders for about 20 minutes. The young players seemed to enjoy being around a player of his stature, laughing as he joked around on the field, some of them sneaking peeks at him around the backstop.
Reyes spent some time in the batting cage then waited for the others to go through situational hitting drills before taking swings from both sides of the plate.
“Being here on the field again, I feel like I’m 18 again, working out with those young kids, great talents moving around, that made me feel good,” Reyes said.
Reyes can return on June 1, but it’s unclear what the 32-year-old’s role will be when he gets back.
Rookie Trevor Story has excelled in his place, hitting .277 with 11 homers and 28 RBIs through Colorado’s first 38 games and the Rockies appear to have no intention of taking him out of the starting lineup.
The switch-hitting Reyes has lost some of his range, according to defensive metrics, but he still runs well and hit a combined .274 with seven homers and 53 RBIs last season with Toronto and Colorado.
Reyes is due $41 million in guaranteed salary over the next two seasons, so the Rockies will need to decide whether to put him in a backup infielder role or trade him.
“We haven’t talked logistics of his fit on this club yet,” Colorado manager Walt Weiss said this week. “But we will at some point. I’m just letting it play out.”
Reyes has been working out on his own since November, but is way behind players who went through spring training and two months of the season. He still needs to get his timing right on the field, take swings against live pitching and pick up all the nuances that come with playing baseball at full speed in game situations.
“When you get on the field, it’s a different ball game,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t feel right when you get on the baseball field, but my body feels great.”