Nearly 11 months after Jose Reyes last appeared in a major-league game, after hamstring woes and then a hyperactive thyroid, the shortstop finally is ready to return to the New York Mets' lineup. Reyes rejoined the Mets on Friday at Citi Field, in advance of Saturday's activation from the disabled list.
"It feels like more than that. It feels like two years," said Reyes, who has not played in a major-league game since last May 20 at Dodger Stadium, because right leg woes and repeated false starts scuttled the rest of his 2009 season. "I think I'm going to be a little nervous tomorrow because I never spent so much time without playing baseball."
Reyes' stint on the DL was backdated 10 days into spring training, so he only has to spend the first five days of the regular season inactive. The reasoning behind keeping him in Florida was to allow him to see pitching before throwing him against major-league arms. Reyes had been confined to his couch for three weeks during spring training because of a hyperactive thyroid. The gland has returned to normal fuctioning levels, Reyes said. He added that he's tested each Monday still.
"I don't want to say my swing is like, 'Wow,' but it's OK," said Reyes, who went 0-for-4 in his final rehab appearance, Thursday for the Class A St. Lucie Mets. "I've been working so hard in Florida. I think I'm ready to go. ... My timing is OK. It's not unbelievable. At least I put the ball in play. I hit a couple of balls hard there. I hit a couple of doubles, a home run. But my concern right now is my leg. My leg is good."
Could he have faced Florida Marlins ace Josh Johnson on Opening Day if the Mets had not placed him on the DL?
"By that time I only had like 10 at-bats in the minor leagues," Reyes said. "For a guy like me, I missed so much time last year, I think I wasn't going to be ready for Opening Day."
Reyes indicated that before his spring-training thyroid scare, he had not ever heard of the gland. He still is instructed to stay away from seafood -- "fish, shrimp, lobster," he said -- resulting in a primarily chicken-based diet these days.
The expectation is rookie Ruben Tejada will be sent to Triple-A Buffalo when Reyes is activated. However, manager Jerry Manuel said there's an "outside possibility" Luis Castillo could land on the DL instead. Castillo was held out of Friday's starting lineup because he felt a pull in his right calf while stealing a base on Opening Day.
"I'm glad it's over with," Reyes said. "Now it's time to focus on playing baseball."