Jose Reyes tends to wear his emotions on his sleeve, and earlier this season as the Mets infielder was mired in one of the worst slumps of his major-league career, those emotions translated into silence.
“When Jose starts to get real quiet, you can tell there’s things on his mind,” Terry Collins said. “There was a time where you just didn’t see that beaming smile that he normally has.”
Now those days are in the past, though.
After going 2-for-4 with a long solo home run in the Mets’ 9-3 victory over the Rockies Saturday at Citi Field, Reyes is hitting .363 since June 23, emerging as the team’s hottest hitter at the most crucial juncture of the season.
In that same span, the Mets have won 10 of 16 contests, and they now trail the Rockies by just six games in the loss column in the N.L. wild card race.
“He’s been the sparkplug, man. He really has. He brings energy every single day,” said Jay Bruce, who hit a three-run homer in the first inning of Saturday’s victory. “I hope when I’m 34 I have that kind of energy. …He’s been great. He really has. He comes to the field every single day ready to go, ready to do whatever the team needs him to do.”
Collins believes Reyes’ switch to full-time shortstop has catalyzed his offense. Reyes last started a game at third on June 12. Since June 13, he’s hitting .311 with six homers and 12 RBI.
As recently as June 15, Reyes was hitting .184 on the season. He’s now hitting a season-high .221.
“Certainly nobody was more frustrated than Jose Reyes the way things got started this year. He was too good a player to continue it,” Collins said. “He worked hard in the cages. He hit extra. But I think when we got him off third base, it just kind of eased him a little bit. ‘Hey look, I’m happy out here, don’t have to worry about my defense because this is where I belong.’ And I think the bat came with it.”
Rookie T.J. Rivera extended his career-best hitting streak to 10 games Saturday night with an RBI single in the bottom of the second inning. The Bronx native is now hitting .304 on the season.
“T.J. can hit. That’s just the bottom line. He finds the barrel. Doesn’t matter where you hit him, where he’s playing,” Bruce said.
“T.J. has hit everywhere he’s been. He might not be the biggest name or gotten the most press, but he’s a ballplayer and he’s going to hit.”