Mets morning briefing 4.24.12

Jose Reyes returns to Citi Field for the first time as a visitor this evening. He encounters a reeling Mets team that was swept in a doubleheader by the San Francisco Giants on Monday, 6-1 and 7-2, to fall to .500 for the first time this season.

The Mets being involved in doubleheader sweeps actually has become the norm. They were 2-3-0 in twinbills last season -- splitting none. The last split: June 10, 2010, against the San Diego Padres.

Read the Mets-Marlins series preview here.

Meanwhile, Larry Wayne Jones -- father of Shea Jones -- turned 40 today.

Tuesday's news reports:

• ESPN.com's Jorge Arangure Jr. visited Reyes during the shortstop's weekend series at Nationals Park. Reyes opened up about his time in New York and just how emotional he is about his return to Flushing. Writes Arangure:

This particular conversation with Reyes seemed different from all the others. When Reyes tells you that he's genuinely excited about something, you take notice because you always assume that he's excited about everything.

"I'm going crazy thinking about going there," he said prior to the Miami Marlins' game against the Washington Nationals on Friday. He paused, then repeated, "I'm going crazy thinking about going there."

On Sunday night, Reyes arrived in New York with his Marlins teammates and for the first time in months he slept in his own bed at his house on Long Island. He spent his off day on Monday hanging out with his New York friends and family. Then on Tuesday night, the reunion that Reyes has awaited for months will arrive. Shortly before game time, Mets fans' love affair with their former shortstop will officially come to an end, if it hasn't already. Reyes, wearing the Marlins' fluorescent colors, will step into the batter's box and face the team with whom he spent almost half his life.

"I know he's excited about coming back and seeing how he's received," said Peter Greenberg, Reyes' agent. "I know he's had the date circled since he saw the schedule. I don't think honestly he can say it's another game. It's going to be emotional for him."

David Wright says it will be strange to see Reyes in a Marlins uniform. Because Wright was dealing with an abdominal issue during spring training, he did not see Reyes during any Mets-Marlins Grapefruit League games. So this will be the third baseman's first in-person glimpse at Reyes in garish Marlins colors.

Brian Costa in the Journal notes that minus Reyes, the Mets rank last in the National League in steals with three. Reyes' Marlins lead with 18. Writes Costa:

Baseball Prospectus keeps a statistic called base running runs, which measures the number of runs contributed by a player's advancement on the bases above what would be expected, based on the number and quality of opportunities to advance. Entering Monday, the Mets ranked 29th in the majors with -3.6 base running runs. "I think we have guys who can steal some bases and take some extra bases," said Mets first-base coach Tom Goodwin, who oversees baserunning. "It's just a comfort level we have to get to as a team. We need to get comfortable taking that chance and taking that extra base."

• Read more on Reyes' impending return in the Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post, Star-Ledger, Post, Times, Daily News and Newsday.

Jason Bay injured his left rib cage attempting a catch on Gregor Blanco's fourth-inning shot to left field in Game 2. X-rays were negative, but Bay was not fully comfortable postgame and may undergo an MRI on Tuesday morning. Read more in Newsday, the Daily News, Record and Post.

• Backup middle infielder Ronny Cedeno landed on the disabled list with a strained left intercostal muscle on his left side. Jeremy Hefner was activated for Game 1 of Monday's doubleheader and tossed three scoreless innings in relief of Miguel Batista. Hefner then was optioned back to Triple-A Buffalo, and Jordany Valdespin was activated to serve as a backup middle infielder.

Mike Puma in the Post had this lead to his game story about the doubleheader defeat: If a baseball team creates a stench and nobody shows up to smell it, is an odor emitted?

Read other game recaps from a miserable Monday at damp, frigid and desolate Citi Field in the Times, Record, Star-Ledger, Daily News and Newsday.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post links Monday's stinker to Reyes' return. Writes Kernan:

These are the nights when Jose Reyes’ free-agent flight can be felt throughout a dead ballpark. This has nothing to do with Ruben Tejada, who is proving to be a competent replacement for the Mets, but Reyes always brought a large amount of energy to the team. On this cold night when Citi Field was nearly empty, energy was desperately needed against the Giants.

• Columnist Tim Smith in the Daily News says who needs Reyes when the Mets have Ruben Tejada? (Our take? There's a wee bit of a drop-off.) Writes Smith:

If the early results are any indication of what the future holds, the Mets aren’t going to miss Reyes at all. They’re better off without him. All that hand-wringing over whether to let him leave was wasted. The Mets can live without him. Tejada has softened that blow.

• Columnist Jeff Bradley in the Star-Ledger says the Reyes recognition video should include him bunting for a base hit and departing the final game of last season to preserve the batting title, because Bradley asserts that was a selfish play. Writes Bradley:

But now that Reyes is gone, and there doesn’t appear to be another player like him about to blow through the doors of the clubhouse, why not remember how it ended? Showing Reyes walking off again would symbolize, without saying a word, that the Mets have moved in a new direction. Reyes was a special player, an exciting player, a guy who played hard. But show that moment, and let Mets fans decide if it was a defining one. Walking the parking lots outside Citi Field last night were a few who believed it was. “Looking back, I’m kind of glad we might not have players like Jose Reyes anymore,” said Brad Jasper, a Mets fan from Manhattan who was one of the few to attend the first game of last night’s doubleheader with the Giants. “That was a ‘me’ move and we’ve got to be more of a team to be successful in the future.”

Ike Davis left the bases loaded three times and stranded 11 runners Monday, although the last called third strike, as a pinch hitter in Game 2, was a rough call by plate ump Dana DeMuth on a low pitch. Read more in the Post.

• If you thought, for sure, that former Mets first-round draft pick Philip Humber's appearance to read the Top 10 list on the "Late Show" with David Letterman would include a dig at the Mets, you were incorrect. Or, more precisely, the show's writers whiffed. The Amazin's escaped unscathed. The only dig at the expense of another team was directed at the Boston Red Sox. Said Humber for No. 3: "I see the Red Sox are up 9-0 on the Yankees -- that's an easy win."

Andres Torres and D.J. Carrasco began rehab assignments Monday with Class A St. Lucie. Carrasco pitched a scoreless inning. Torres went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two steals. Torres' return from a left calf strain will create an interesting situation about whether Kirk Nieuwenhuis merits sticking around -- and can get enough playing time to justify it. Interestingly, Terry Collins twice in the four-game San Francisco series started Nieuwenhuis and Scott Hairston against a southpaw and had Lucas Duda on the bench.

Dylan Owen, making a spot start with Hefner promoted to the majors, allowed one run in 4 2/3 innings and also homered as Triple-A Buffalo beat Lehigh Valley, 5-1. Read the full minor league recap here.

TRIVIA: Which city hosted the All-Star Game the year Reyes and Wright were selected to play for the first time? (Hint: Reyes was inactive because he had sliced his left pinkie on Mike Jacobs' cleat while sliding back into first base a week earlier in a game against the Marlins.)

Monday's answer: Tom Seaver pitched for only one minor league team in his career -- the Jacksonville (Fla.) Suns, in 1966. Seaver went 12-12 with a 3.13 ERA in 34 appearances (32 starts) spanning 210 innings. He became an All-Star the following season.