Notes: Henderson helping Reyes

Notes: Henderson helping Reyes

NEW YORK -- Jose Reyes said a huge part of his success in the first half of the season can be attributed to Rickey Henderson. Henderson, the all-time stolen bases leader with 1,406, was hired in the offseason to spend a week during Spring Training and a week during the season as a special instructor with the Mets.

"He's been a huge help," said Reyes, who leads the Majors with 34 stolen bases. "He's given me a lot of tips on how to read the pitcher and how to get a better jump. I'm still learning how to play the game, so it's great to have a player like that come around and share what he knows."

Reyes admitted it was originally tough to concentrate when Henderson arrived at camp during the spring because the young star used to watch Henderson on television and emulated his style of play.

"Oh yeah, at first, I kind of said to myself, 'This is Rickey Henderson,' but then I had to concentrate if I wanted to learn anything," said Reyes, who was named the National League Player of the Week two weeks in a row in June.

Reyes said he's learned how to read the slide step on pitchers better and he's developed a knack for paying attention to the certain tendencies of pitchers. He said Henderson has also instructed him on ways to improve himself at the plate.

"A lot of times, a pitcher is going to do the exact same thing and might change his approach to the plate just a bit," said Reyes. "I've learned to notice the little things about a pitcher. How he throws over to first, how he slide steps to home, how he makes adjustments.

"He's also talked to me this week about me leaning forward at the plate, which has hurt my chances of getting on. He's told me to read the pitches with my eyes as opposed to going forward. That way, I don't tip off the pitchers. I have to trust my eyes."

Henderson praised Reyes and said he is a fantastic player who just needs some more confidence to take his game to the next level.

"He's got a ton of ability, but I've told him to try not to do too much," said Henderson, who set the record for most career walks (2,190) before Barry Bonds broke it last year. "He's got to become more confident to hit with two strikes and to learn how to simply put the ball in play.

"He's a free swinger, so sometimes it's tough to accept just putting the ball in play to get on instead of getting a good swing on it. But, if he learns to do that, he'll create more chances to get more steals."

Henderson added that it felt good to put on a uniform again, and that he could help Alex Rodriguez deal with the Yankee fans.

"Rickey needs to help Alex out," said Henderson. "Rickey's got to help Alex understand these fans."

Up next: Pedro Martinez will miss his Monday's start against the Pirates because of soreness in his right hip. The Mets have not decided who will take the ball in his place. Paul Maholm (2-7, 4.97 ERA) will start for the Pirates in the 7:10 p.m. ET game at Shea Stadium.

Chris Girandola is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.