<
>

With Neil Walker back, Jose Reyes will prepare to rove

NEW YORK -- With second baseman Neil Walker accepting a $17.2 million qualifying offer from the New York Mets, Jose Reyes appears headed for a backup role at multiple positions. And Reyes indicated Tuesday that he is fine with that job assignment if it materializes.

“This offseason I’m going to be working at every position just to be ready for spring training,” Reyes said during a visit with Curtis Granderson to M.S. 72 in Jamaica to distribute turkeys to needy families. “Wherever the skipper wants to put me, I’m going to be open to doing it. And whatever is best for the team, like I said, I’m going to be open to doing it.

“It’s great to have Neil back. We know what he’s capable of doing in the field. He’s a great teammate, great person. What he’s able to do as a second baseman, that’s something that we need.”

The Mets may even let Reyes dabble in the outfield during spring training, although that topic has not yet been raised with him.

Of course, shuffling Reyes among multiple positions presumes David Wright will be fully healthy and capable of playing the bulk of the games at third base.

“We haven’t talked about anything yet, but when I signed here, they talked about outfield,” Reyes said. “So I’m open.”

Also Tuesday, Reyes said he recently spoke with free-agent Yoenis Cespedes, whom the Mets hope to re-sign. Granderson suggested Tuesday it may be 50-50 whether Cespedes returns. Reyes was unsure.

“I talked to him, like, one week ago,” Reyes said. “He’s still waiting. We want him back. I don’t know what’s going to happen. ... Every team needs a player like Cespedes in the lineup. He’s a game-changer. Like I said, I tried to talk to him to try to convince him to come back. But that’s something I can’t control. For sure -- not only me -- every player on our ballclub wants him back. But we don’t make that decision.”

MLB suspended Reyes the opening two months of last season after a domestic-violence incident involving his wife. With a regular spring training in 2017, Reyes expects a quicker start to his season. He hit only .213 in his first 12 games upon joining the Mets in July.

“There’s no doubt in my mind,” Reyes said. “I know for sure that I’m going to be way better than the past season because I’m going to be there from the beginning. I’m going to be in spring training. I know I’m going to be in shape right out of the gate. So that’s going to be a key for me.”

Reyes said he had recently spoken with Jeurys Familia, although Reyes steered clear of bringing up the closer’s recent arrest on a domestic-violence allegation. Like Reyes last season, Familia could be facing a suspension to open 2017 no matter how the legal process plays out. Reyes’ suspension came despite authorities in Hawaii ultimately dropping charges against him.

Familia pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of simple assault.

“I can’t comment about that,” Reyes said. “He’s still in the legal process right now, so there’s kind of nothing to say about that matter right now. ... I talked to him, but not about that matter -- just to say hello and to see where he’s at. I didn’t want to touch base on that.”