After being traded by the Miami Marlins after just one season, Jose Reyes is relieved to be preparing for a second season with the Blue Jays in 2014 despite an injury-marred 2013 season where Toronto fell far short of expectations.
The All-Star shortstop told MLB.com that it "means a lot" to him that the Jays weren't quick to jettison him. The Marlins traded him to the Blue Jays in 2012 just one season after he signed a six-year, $106 million contract with the team.
"In Miami, we didn't have that opportunity. Well, they traded me after the first year, so I didn't have that opportunity. Here, it's a little bit different," he told the website.
"We know we had a tough year, a disappointing year, but at least we have the same guys here that went through it last year. I think this year we're going to be way better."
Reyes played in just 93 games last year due to a severe ankle injury in April that kept him out of action until late June. He rebounded to have a solid season, batting .296 with 10 home runs, 37 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.
He's healthy now though and looking forward to being more aggressive on the basepaths this season and has set a goal of playing in 150 games, even though playing home games on the turf at Rogers Centre is "tough" he admits.
"Last year was kind of tough for me when I came back, because I had to limit myself in a lot of stuff that when I'm pain free, I'm able to do," Reyes told MLB.com. "Stealing, hitting a triple and stuff like that. Last year I wasn't able to do that, but thank God I went through the offseason working extra hard on my ankle to get it stronger. Now I'm 100 percent, and I can't wait to get onto the field and play like the Jose Reyes from before."
Many experts picked the Blue Jays to compete for the AL East title last season after trading for Reyes and pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson (now with the San Diego Padres) in the 11-player blockbuster deal and acquiring Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets. Instead, the Jays finished in last place with a 74-88 record.
Reyes told MLB.com that the Jays "expect to win" in 2014, however.