There was a bit of a surprise in the lineup that manager Mickey Callaway posted for the start of the Mets-Nationals series on April 5. Hot-hitting shortstop Amed Rosario (his slash line was .333/.375/.467 at the time) was not in the lineup. Instead it was veteran utility man Jose Reyes getting the start at short.
This move was not to rest Rosario, Reyes had played short just two days earlier, going hittless in three at-bats with an error in the field. Also, there was to be an off-day on Friday, so clearly rest for Rosario was not the issue, nor was there any indication he was hurt.
Callaway explained the decision to start Reyes over Rosario in the first game of an important series against the strong Washington Nationals team. “ I thought that Reyes versus Strasburg would probably be a pretty good matchup,” he stated. We can certainly take Callaway at his word on this, but there might have been another factor that came into play.
The day before Reyes got his start against the Nats, he and his wife were sworn in as U. S. citizens. He obviously was excited and thrilled by this, he was quoted in the New York Post as saying “This is a great country and I have to be so thankful for what America has given me.” Reyes was obviously pumped up, and it could be that Callaway played him that day to give him some time in the spotlight that game, as well as to take advantage of that ramped up enthusiasm Reyes deservedly was displaying.
Reyes did not have a good game, he went 0-4, and also as relay man he made a bad throw to the plate that allowed a Nat to score. However, no harm was done as the Mets went on to triumph 8-2.
So far Callaway has done a tremendous job as manager. His strategy and his handling of the pitchers have been beyond reproach. He has the team playing hard for him. Even though his softer side may have been shown in that game, he has also showed firmness when needed. Just ask Dominic Smith, who was late for a team meeting as the Grapefruit League was about to start this year. Smith was scheduled to start that game. But he was pulled from the lineup. He hopefully will contribute to the Mets in the future, but for now the tardy Mr. Smith is toiling for AAA Las Vegas.
Reyes was a great player for the Mets in the past, but the end of the line for him is obviously drawing closer, and there will not be very many more times he is in the spotlight. On merit alone he may not have deserved to start the opener of the series against Washington, but hey, a little sentiment is not a bad thing in baseball. Kudos to Callaway for being a fine manager, and for being a fine human as well.