NEW YORK -- If Terry Collins had his way, Jose Reyes would not always run full speed to first base.
Do not adjust your monitors. The Mets' manager does not want Reyes to curb his aggression on the basepaths -- if anything, the opposite is true. Collins simply wants his shortstop to pick and choose his spots, so that he can more freely steal bases in critical spots without worrying about the consequences on his legs.
"That's when he's gotten hurt, is when he takes that aggressive attitude -- when he runs the bases, gets on a lot," Collins said. "The next day, there really isn't enough time to let his legs recuperate from the night before. And that becomes the issue."
In Collins' opinion, both of Reyes' hamstring strains this season are attributable to the fact that, unlike most veterans, Reyes refuses to accept routine days off to help his body recover. Exacerbating the strain on his legs is the fact that, with few exceptions, Reyes runs and plays at high-octane levels almost every inning of every game.
"What we have to do is somehow educate him that, look, it doesn't always have to be 100 percent," Collins said. "It sounds like you're asking him not to hustle. That's not it. But ultimately, a guy who's this important to this team -- and his legs are his game -- he's got to somehow understand what it takes to take care of his legs."
If Reyes re-signs with the Mets this offseason, Collins has already developed a plan to give Reyes multiple scheduled days off each month. The cost of multiple assignments to the disabled list, Collins knows, is far greater than that of a half-dozen maintenance days each season.
But Collins also wants Reyes to do his own part in easing the daily strain on his legs.
"We're not asking him to jog to first base," Collins said. "We're just asking him to know when he's got to bust it and when he doesn't."