Blue Jays shortstop flies out to begin season opener, exits game in first inning
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jose Reyes thought he was healthy enough to start the regular season, but instead the veteran Blue Jays shortstop wasn't even able to get through the first inning of Opening Day.
Reyes was placed on the 15-day disabled list following Monday's game because of tightness in his left hamstring. It's the same injury that he suffered during the final week of Spring Training and has lingered since.
The 30-year-old hoped to begin the year without any issues, but after his at-bat in the first inning of Toronto's season opener, it became abundantly clear that wasn't going to be the case.
"It feels OK walking around, but we're going to have better details [Tuesday] when I get an MRI," Reyes said a couple of hours before the club's official announcement. "Hopefully it doesn't get any worse. If it gets any worse, it's going to be disappointing not just for me, but for the whole team.
"I worked so hard this offseason just to get ready for Spring Training, play for a full year, and now I have to deal with this thing -- it's no fun at all. I want to be on the field, but it's one of those things, injuries happen, it's part of the game and I have to deal with it."
Reyes originally suffered the injury during a Spring Training game against the Tigers on March 22. He was held out for several days, but eventually received clearance to play during the two-game series March 28-29 against the Mets in Montreal.
The Dominican native played five innings at shortstop in each of those games and went a combined 0-for-6. He didn't have to run the bases and didn't have to do much work in the field.
Reyes was asked in a couple of different ways Monday why he played in those final two exhibitions and his answer remained relatively the same.
"It was good enough to play, but I didn't really test my leg running anywhere there," Reyes said. "I didn't get on base, I didn't do nothing. I just tried to play through the little soreness there in my hamstring, but when you deal with that, you have to be careful.
"I thought I could play through it. Sometimes you're not 100 percent and you feel like you can play, but that wasn't the case."
The normally upbeat Reyes was noticeably subdued after Monday's game. His infamous smile was gone and it was apparent he has serious concerns about his immediate future. After missing 66 games in 2013 with a severely sprained left ankle, another trip to the disabled list was the last thing Reyes wanted to happen, especially this early.
The Blue Jays purchased the contract of infielder Jonathan Diaz from Triple-A Buffalo to take Reyes' spot on the 25-man roster. Diaz is an elite defender, but an extremely light hitter as evidenced by his .230 career average and .655 OPS over the course of eight seasons in the Minor Leagues.
That decision means Toronto has decided to take a pass on fellow Minor League infielder Munenori Kawasaki. It was the fan-favorite Kawasaki that was the primary replacement for Reyes last season, but this time the duties will fall upon Diaz. There had been some talk of rookie Ryan Goins sliding over from second base to shortstop, but that's something Gibbons at least attempted to dismiss.
"We'd really like to leave Goins at second base because he has settled in and is an above-average second baseman there," Toronto's manager said. "He can play short, but that's not where he excels."