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Reyes, Delgado might return this season

Reyes, Delgado might return this season

NEW YORK -- The Mets have already gotten half of their four core offensive players back in the first 10 days of September. The team is now holding out hope it could have all of them back in the lineup by the end of the season.

While it's too late for 2009, that doesn't mean it's not a significant early indicator for the team in '10.

"The more questions we can answer now as far as health goes, the better we are in Spring Training," manager Jerry Manuel said before Wednesday's game with the Marlins.

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That's the reason that, despite the Mets' losing record, Carlos Beltran returned to the lineup on Tuesday night and Jose Reyes still hopes to play by the end of the year.

Reyes was back in the clubhouse on Wednesday for team picture day, saying he is upset by the perception that he isn't trying his hardest to return.

"I've been working so hard to come back, so right now I don't want to say when, but I'm still trying," Reyes said. "I'd like to come back to get my confidence back and go into Spring Training with a better idea."

Reyes has had numerous starts and stops with his rehabilitation since he last took the field in a Mets uniform on May 20. The shortstop was initially supposed to miss one game in San Francisco on May 14. He missed five starts before returning to play one full game in Los Angeles on May 19. One day later, Reyes pulled himself from a game at Dodger Stadium and hasn't seen a big league field since.

He was diagnosed then with a slight tear of the hamstring. That diagnosis was upgraded to a complete tear in August.

If Reyes does not play the rest of this season, he may undergo offseason surgery on the hamstring. He may also play some winter ball to get back in playing shape.

"I'm a big winter ball guy," Manuel said. "For his situation, it would depend entirely on him and his way of training to get ready for the season. ... If he feels he needs to answer a few questions, that would be a good venue for that."

Reyes himself was bothered by critics who have wondered if the shortstop has been doing everything he can to play again this season.

"I don't know why some people think I don't want to be on the field. I live for baseball," Reyes said. "If I were ready the last week of the season, I'm going to play the last week of the season."

The Mets may also see a return from Carlos Delgado in the last weeks of the season. Delgado, out since May 11 following hip surgery, was moving closer to a return in August when he suffered a setback with an oblique injury. On Wednesday, Manuel upgraded the status of Delgado's return from "slim," saying the past two weeks were "a possibility" for the first baseman.

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

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