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Reyes debuts, hopes to help Rox find groove

Colorado's new veteran shortstop singles, steals second in first game with club

CHICAGO -- Jose Reyes has the shiny stuff to decorate his walls and shelves and fill his bank account. But he's been traveling the continent -- granted, not always by choice -- chasing postseason success.

"I'm 32 years old, so it's getting late in my career," Reyes said Wednesday morning, before his first game as the Rockies' new shortstop -- a 3-2 loss to the Cubs in which he went 1-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base and a strikeout. "I want to win. I've been to the playoffs only once, 2006. It's been a long time for me.

"I want to win as soon as possible. I have my contract. I have my money. The only thing that I miss is winning."

After going to the postseason in two of his first three seasons, but not since 2009, Troy Tulowitzki used to make those statements. But late Monday night, the Rockies sent him and righty relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins to the Blue Jays -- who are in a win-now campaign. Now it's Reyes trying to help the Rockies discover a groove.

Video: [email protected]: Reyes, Blackmon pull off a double steal

When the deal was announced, much of the Colorado attention went to the righty pitching prospects received -- Jeff Hoffman, the Blue Jays' top Draft pick in 2014; Miguel Castro, a hard-throwing 20-year-old; and Jesus Tinoco, a 20-year-old in the infant stages of his career. Reyes was treated more as an expensive cost-saver -- $48 million over the 2015 and '16 seasons, but still $50 million less than Tulowitzki would have received through 2020. Even more, speculation hangs that he could be moved again for cost savings and prospects.

But Reyes is a four-time All-Star with speed that plays well high in the batting order. Other than leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon, whose 27 steals are one shy of his career high, the Rockies are what manager Walt Weiss called "heavy-footed." In other words, slow.

Reyes can change that, even though chronic hamstring issues slowed him in recent years. He missed time this year with a cracked rib, but his legs are healthy. He is 17-for-20 on steal attempts this season. He's no longer the runner who stole 56 or more bases from 2005-08, but he still is a speed upgrade.

"I see him as a top-of-the-lineup-type guy, whether that's first or second, I don't know," Weiss said. "Or maybe he's a guy where I'll slot him somewhere else in the lineup depending on the matchups and how all the pieces fit together. But I like what he brings."

Weiss also discounted the suggestion that Reyes has declined precipitously defensively, saying "I'm going to have to see that for myself."

Video: [email protected]: Reyes, LeMahieu combine to turn double play

The Rockies didn't flip Reyes to another club immediately and have given no official indication they'll do anything other than see how he fits. Unless the Rockies do something similar to the Tulowitzki deal, they have two-time All-Star Carlos Gonzalez and savvy catcher Nick Hundley. Otherwise, the lineup is populated by players who haven't signed their first big contract and know little other than the Rockies' struggles, and the pitching -- as has been the case throughout the life of the franchise -- is trying to find its way.

Is that enough? Reyes hopes to help make it so.

"No matter how you're built that year, you go with the attitude that you're going to win that year," Reyes said. "You look around this ballclub and there's a lot of talent. We just need to put everything together, play consistent baseball throughout the season, I don't see a reason why we can't compete."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page.
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