LOS ANGELES -- Proceeding optimistically with their star shortstop for days, the Mets have now conceded to caution. The team placed Jose Reyes on the disabled list Thursday with a Grade 1 strain of his left hamstring, keeping him out of the lineup at least through next weekend. Though a second opinion of Reyes' MRI results revealed nothing new, team doctors relayed skepticism that Reyes would be able to return in time for next weekend's series against the Phillies. Given that information, the Mets were no longer willing to risk a setback on the off chance that Reyes might be ready a few games earlier than expected. "It came down to what's the most important -- three games or the next 50?" Mets manager Terry Collins said.
The DL assignment comes retroactive to Sunday, meaning Reyes will first be eligible to return July 18 against the Marlins. Collins indicated that a more likely scenario has Reyes playing in Minor League rehab games that week, before rejoining the Mets in Miami beginning July 22. But no one knows for sure. Reyes will not attempt to hit, field or run for the next seven to 10 days, at which point the team will reevaluate his status. "Nobody put a time on it," Reyes said. "It depends on how I feel every single day. It can be two weeks, it can be less, it can be three weeks. Who knows? I'm just going to come to do treatment every day and see how I feel." Though it is hardly a consolation, the Mets became somewhat more comfortable placing Reyes on the DL given the team's recent overall quality of play. With Ruben Tejada filling in at shortstop and Angel Pagan handling leadoff duties, the Mets entered Thursday's play with four consecutive wins in Reyes' absence. "One of our concerns was if we have to disable this guy, what's the energy going to be like on the club?" Collins said. "But the way we've played in the last three days, four days, I think our guys realize they still have to pick it up even if he's not in the lineup." Reyes, who injured his leg running to first base on Saturday against the Yankees, received treatment, fielded ground balls and took batting practice throughout this week in an attempt to overcome the injury. But the Mets did not permit him to run, seeking a second opinion Wednesday at the request of his agents. Leading the National League with a .354 batting average, 124 hits, 65 runs scored and 15 triples, and ranking in the top 10 in doubles, stolen bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, Reyes had been enjoying his the best half-season of his career in his final season under contract, drawing comparisons ranging from Carl Crawford to Ty Cobb. "It's kind of tough," Reyes said. "I did a lot of work this offseason on my leg, on my whole body, to try to play a position with no problem. Injuries are part of the game. There's nothing I can really do about it. I was running normal, pulled a hamstring. That can happen to anybody." If Reyes misses significant time due to injury, it could negatively impact his ability to obtain top dollar on the free-agent market next offseason. Though Reyes has produced comparable numbers to those of Crawford, who signed a seven-year, $142 million deal with the Red Sox at the age of 29, Crawford possesses a much cleaner injury history. Since 2009, Reyes has battled two hamstring issues, a recurring oblique injury and a thyroid imbalance, in addition to the multiple leg injuries that plagued him at the beginning of his career. When healthy, Reyes has proven statistically comparable to Crawford at a more highly valued defensive position. But he has not played in more than 133 games since 2008. "The only thing I worry about is getting back on the field," Reyes said. "Anybody can pull a hamstring. About my contract situation, right now I don't think about that. I just want to be on the field and finish the second half strong, see what happens." Though he will not be on the field next Tuesday in Arizona, Reyes will travel to Phoenix to be with his NL teammates in the All-Star Game. A late surge in voting allowed Reyes to snag starting honors away Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who may nonetheless start in his stead. The Mets want Reyes to soak in All-Star honors in Phoenix, before returning to New York City Wednesday for treatment. "He deserves it in every way," Collins said. "He deserves the recognition. He deserves everything that celebration is." "It's a little disappointing because you want to go on the All-Star Game, you want to play," said Reyes, who also missed last year's game due to injury. "But when you're hurt, there's nothing you can do about it. [I'll] just go there and try to enjoy it anyway." In Reyes' absence, Tejada will continue to start at shortstop for the Mets, with Pagan leading off. Infielder Nick Evans, who started at first base Thursday, has joined the club from Triple-A Buffalo to fill a bench role. Evans, 25, was 0-for-12 with five walks in a three-week stint with the Mets earlier this season. Shortly after rejoining Buffalo, Evans reeled off a 19-game hitting streak, upping his overall Triple-A average to .329 with seven home runs in 57 games.