"If I get him back soon, it's like a bonus for us," Manuel said.
But Reyes wants Manuel to cash in that bonus, and to that end, he increased the pace of what the Mets are still referring to as "light jogging" before Saturday's game. Reyes continues to hit and take ground balls without pain -- but running has vexed him. Since an MRI revealed a right hamstring tear earlier this month, the Mets have treated Reyes' rehabilitation with extra caution.
Reyes called testing the hamstring "a little bit scary," and so the Mets are being prudent. Only when Reyes can jog pain-free at one speed will the Mets allow him to increase the pace. It's an effective process, but a slow one -- and there's no end in sight.
"I'd like to be on the field as soon as possible," Reyes said. "But with this kind of injury, you never know."
Considering that the Mets have just 15 games remaining before the All-Star break, it's difficult to envision a scenario in which Reyes returns before mid-July. But the Mets are not ruling it out -- both Reyes and Manuel are clinging to the contention that they have little idea when the shortstop might return.
Earlier in the process, back when he was dealing with right calf tendinitis and nothing else, Reyes said that he was willing to play at less than 100 percent. And though he still is, the Mets no longer seem as willing to let him.
"You're talking about an explosive individual," Manuel said. "Trying to be that at 85 percent is a little difficult."
And for Reyes, trying to sit still on the bench is even more difficult. It's now been more than five weeks since Reyes has played in a game -- a timeline that continues to eat away at him.
"It's hard for me not to be in the lineup," Reyes said.
And it's made harder still by the fact that first baseman Carlos Delgado and center fielder Carlos Beltran are also missing, with no imminent return for either. Bizarre lineups have become the norm for Manuel, who on Saturday penciled Gary Sheffield into left field, Jeremy Reed in center and Argenis Reyes at second base.
"I don't expect them to be highlight guys," Manuel said of Sheffield and part-time outfielder Fernando Tatis, in particular. "I just expect them to make the routine play."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.