Longtime infielder got first outfield action (one inning) Saturday
By Andrew Gruman
Special to MLB.com |
MILWAUKEE -- With Lucas Duda back from the disabled list and T.J. Rivera continuing to swing a hot bat, Jose Reyes was the odd man out of the Mets' lineup for the second consecutive game Saturday.
Reyes came to Spring Training expecting to serve as a utility player, but plans quickly changed when David Wright went down with a cervical disk herniation in his back. The 34-year-old Reyes became the starter in his stead.
While Duda was out with a hyperextended left elbow, however, Rivera hit his way into the Mets' lineup more often than not. Duda was activated from the disabled list Friday, shifting Rivera's hot bat over to third base for the first two games of a three-game set in Milwaukee.
"In Lucas' case, we have to get him back in the flow of things, so he has to play right now," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We have to get him in there and seeing some big league pitching to get his feet back, because he can be a big piece of this. The way T.J. is swinging right now, it's kind of hard to get him out of there."
Moving Rivera to third base has sent Reyes to the bench. Prior to Friday, Reyes had started 30 of New York's first 33 games at either third base or shortstop.
He has now been out of the lineup for consecutive days for the first time this season and appears to be in the utility role he expected to serve in before Wright went down.
"I understand that," Reyes said of his role changing with Duda returning. "I knew that coming back [to the Mets] last year. If David [Wright] was healthy, I'd have been in the same situation. It's nothing new for me.
"I want to be in the lineup. I want to contribute to my ball club, but I don't make those decisions. The only thing I can do is be ready when they ask me to be. I'm going to continue to work and stay ready in case they need me."
Collins said the club has revisited using the veteran infielder in the outfield, a thought the Mets had in Spring Training. Reyes, who is hitting .182 on the season, entered Saturday's game in center field as part of a double-switch prior to the bottom of the sixth. It was his first appearance in the outfield in his 15-year Major League career. He then moved to shortstop an inning later.
If Collins decides to put Reyes in the outfield, it will be a trial-by-fire period since it's unknown what the result will be.
"When we talked about it in the spring, we planned on playing him out there," Collins said. "But when David [Wright] went down, it kind of put the kibosh on it. He was going to be the third baseman. The rough start he has had and with T.J. swinging the bat the way he is, we have to revisit it."
Despite the lack of repetitions, Reyes is open to trying to learn to play the outfield on the fly.
I don't see why not," Reyes said. "I'm healthy. I don't want to say it's going to be easy to do because it would be my first time, but I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Left-hander Steven Matz (left elbow inflammation) and right-hander Seth Lugo (right elbow inflammation) each threw two innings and 30 pitches in an extended spring training game in Florida on Saturday.
Andrew Gruman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee and covered the Mets on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.