Manuel itching to switch Reyes in order

Manuel itching to switch Reyes in order

DENVER -- Jerry Manuel's ideas continue to clash with Jose Reyes' health.

Though Manuel still wants to drop Reyes down to third in the batting order as soon as possible -- and that could still come as soon as this weekend in St. Louis -- Reyes is not quite ready for the assignment. And Manuel knows he must practice patience.

"I want to do it so badly, sometimes I get a little impatient," Manuel said. "So I have to be careful with that."

Through four games, Reyes said he still does not feel quite right offensively. And until that changes, Manuel will hesitate to place him in an unfamiliar spot.

"It's just getting him back into the flow of the baseball season," Manuel said. "I think he still feels relatively strong. It's just a matter of getting him his reps."

Reyes and Manuel spoke at length on the subject prior to Wednesday's game against the Rockies. And though Reyes is on board with the idea, he still feels limited in his comeback from a thyroid issue.

Manuel, meanwhile, is concentrating on the baseball aspects of the switch -- namely, ensuring that Reyes will not change his approach as a three hitter. To illustrate his point this spring, Manuel brought up the example of Hanley Ramirez, who successfully dropped from first to third in the Marlins lineup last year.

"I think they're different in the sense that Jose is probably a more explosive baserunner, and Hanley might be more of a power [hitter]," Manuel said. "But I do think just like [Hanley], he is capable, I feel Jose with his game is very capable."

Jeff Francoeur would like to see the shortstop remain atop the lineup.

"I don't want to see that," Francoeur said. "He's the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the game, and I want to see him there. Who knows what we'll do, but he's never really been a run producer. He's been more of a guy to score 150 runs. I want everybody to get hot and keep him right where he's at."

Manuel has definitive plans to drop Reyes down in the batting order soon, possibly as soon as this weekend in St. Louis. With slugger Carlos Beltran on the disabled list, Manuel is hoping to have Reyes make up for some of Beltran's run production.

Francoeur just doesn't see it.

"It could work, who knows?" he said. "I'm just saying he's the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the game. Jose Reyes has always hit leadoff, to me, for a reason. He's the best. He gets on base, steals, makes things happen."

Reyes, who was originally scheduled to take his first off-day of the season on Thursday, instead felt well enough to bat leadoff for the fifth straight game.