After more than a year of weighing his options, manager Jerry Manuel finally acted on one of them and inserted the player some still consider the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the National League into the third position in the batting order.
The change, hastened by the lack of production from the middle of the order, coincided with a shift of David Wright from the third spot -- where he had batted in each of the Mets' first 16 games -- to fifth in the order and the use of Angel Pagan as the leadoff man for the fourth time.
The specific objective of the changes is to "get Jason Bay going" Manuel said.
Hoping to force opposing pitchers to throw more fastballs with Bay in the batter's box, Manuel put a bona fide basestealer in front of him. Wright batting fifth is to afford Bay greater protection.
Bay, who has batted fourth in 14 games, including the Mets' game against the Braves on Friday, was batting .224 with a .293 slugging percentage and 23 strikeouts -- a league high -- in 58 at-bats.
The moves paid off in the sixth inning. Reyes and Bay hit back-to-back triples. Wright then sent Bay home with a sacrifice fly.
Reyes expressed no reservations about the change, despite the unfamiliarity of his new assignment. He has batted leadoff in the most recent 591 games he had started before Friday. Among active players, only Albert Pujols (1,023 starts as the No. 3 hitter for the Cardinals) and Ichiro Suzuki (896 starts as the Mariners' leadoff man) have had more successive appearances in a particular spot in a batting order.
The longest streaks of successive starts in batting-order positions by Mets are 787 by Keith Hernandez (No. 3 position), the 591 by Reyes (leadoff) and 446 by Felix Millan (second).
Wright last batted fifth on June 11, 2009. He has been the No. 5 hitter 279 times and the No. 3 hitter 351 times, more than any other.