Reyes propels Mets in rout of Reds
NEW YORK — In 2003, Jose Reyes was the big-name prospect promoted to the majors in the midst of a midseason overhaul by the New York Mets, who traded five veterans during a 95-loss season.
Fourteen years later, the Mets are on pace for 90 losses after dealing six veterans but hanging on to Reyes in the hopes he can mentor the club’s youngsters, especially Amed Rosario, the organization’s most exciting shortstop prospect since Reyes was a precocious 20-year-old.
Asked Friday night what he thinks of the unique way he’s bookended his career with the Mets, Reyes laughed.
“That means that I’m old,” Reyes said after he hit two homers to lead the Mets to a 5-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Reyes, 34, certainly hasn’t looked his age this summer, but the Mets would be pleased with his contributions even if his performance wasn’t evoking memories of his youthful prime.
“The first guy I went to when I knew Rosario was coming up was Jose Reyes,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “One of the things I asked him was ‘Do you remember when you walked in the clubhouse when you were 20 years old, or 19, however old he was, for the first time and how you were treated’ And I said ‘I want this guy to be treated like a pro. And you’re going to be the one to lead the way, because you’re the one he looks up at.’ And all he’s done is ran with it.”
Reyes has manned his old position this week because Rosario, who became the starting shortstop Aug. 1, missed his fifth straight game due to a right index finger injury.
But even as he prepares to play shortstop, Reyes is spending plenty of time mentoring Rosario. The 21-year-old, whose locker is on the other side of the room from Reyes, sprawled out next to Reyes and engaged in spirited conversation in their native Spanish prior to a game this week against the Philadelphia Phillies.
“Like I told him: ‘You’re the future for this ballclub,’” Reyes said. “So anything he needs from me, I’m going to be open to helping him out.”
In the meantime, Reyes is helping the Mets out on the field as well. Over his last 15 games, Reyes is batting .385 with three homers, eight RBIs and 18 runs scored.
Overall this season, Reyes leads the Mets with 19 stolen bases. He also has 12 homers and 47 RBIs, both of which are tied with Asdrubal Cabrera for the most among any active non-injured Mets player. Wilmer Flores has 18 homers and 52 RBIs but will not play the rest of the season due to a broken nose.
“It’s a pleasure to have him around, especially for our young players,” Collins said. “He works so hard to get ready to play and keeps himself ready to play. Has fun playing. Always has a smile on his face. And they need to see that. They need to know this game’s fun.”
One of those youngsters, rookie Travis Taijeron, put the Mets on the board with his first major league homer leading off the second. Reyes belted a one-out homer in the third — his 100th homer with the Mets — before drilling a two-run shot in the fifth.
Travis d’Arnaud scored the Mets’ final run in the sixth, when Scooter Gennett threw wide of home plate on a potential force out.
Seth Lugo (6-4) earned the win by allowing four hits and one walk while striking out four over six scoreless innings. Lugo also singled with two outs in the fifth off Amir Garrett to set up Reyes’ second homer.
Four relievers combined to finish the nine-hitter for the Mets (62-79), who have won the first two games of the four-game series. A.J. Ramos inherited a bases-loaded jam in the ninth and recorded the final two outs, including a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Zack Cozart, to earn his 27th save and his seventh since the Mets acquired him from the Miami Marlins on July 28.
Garrett (3-7), making his first major league start since June 20, allowed four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out five over five innings.
“I’ve got to get the pitcher out right there and Jose Reyes doesn’t come up,” Garrett said. “But that’s baseball for you.”
Joey Votto had two singles and a walk for the Reds (61-81), who are assured of a fourth straight non-winning season, while Gennett and Tucker Barnhart each had two singles.
“Their line drives were a lot longer than ours tonight, and that’s the truth of it,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “They just played a better ballgame all the way around.”
NOTES: The Mets selected the contract of INF Phillip Evans from Triple-A Las Vegas. Evans, making his major league debut, lined into a double play as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning. ... Mets INF Asdrubal Cabrera (glute) did not play, one night after he was injured fielding a ground ball. ... Reds RHP Anthony DeSclafani (right elbow) threw 60-65 pitches between the bullpen and batting practice. ... Reds RF Jesse Winker (left hip) fielded balls in the outfield and could be activated from the 10-day disabled list next week.