SAN DIEGO -- Mets shortstop Jose Reyes completed his high-fives and handshakes, but instead of immediately descending into the clubhouse, he walked back to second base. Reyes bent down and uprooted the bag, carrying it off the field like a trophy. In a way, it was -- a souvenir for Reyes' 500th career stolen base, which he grabbed in the eighth inning of the Mets' 5-3 win over the Padres on Monday night.
Reyes' 500 steals rank 39th in Major League history, and second among active players behind Ichiro Suzuki's 508. In an age in which teams and players are as reticent to run as ever, no one else is even close; next on the active list is Rajai Davis with 384.
"It means a lot. That's a big number, 500 stolen bases in my career so far," Reyes said. "I tried to do it back home in front of the Mets fans there at Citi Field, but I couldn't. So I did it here."
The opportunity nearly evaporated before Reyes had a chance to take his lead off first base. Batting in the eighth inning, Reyes used his speed to beat out an infield hit, but Padres manager Andy Green challenged the play. A replay review showed that Reyes' foot just barely beat shortstop Dusty Coleman's throw to first base.
Three pitches later, Reyes was off again, sliding headfirst into second. He later scored on Travis d'Arnaud's RBI single.
"It's a tremendous accomplishment," manager Terry Collins said of 500 steals. "He should be rewarded. He's an outstanding player. And one of the things that he's always done, he knows what his game is. He takes care of his legs. He's had a couple of severe injuries, but he's always been able to come back from them."
Since rejoining the Mets last season, Reyes has stayed remarkably healthy, considering the myriad leg injuries that affected him earlier in his career. Even now, at age 34, Reyes can still create chaos on the basepaths. He sprinted down the first-base line on Thursday at Citi Field to tally a walk-off infield hit against the Cardinals, and he reached a sprint speed of 28.3 feet per second on his 500th steal Monday, according to Statcast™. It was good for his 12th steal in 94 games, to go along with six triples and nine home runs.
"I don't want to say that I'm surprised because I put in very good work in the offseason to get to this point," Reyes said. "My body feels real good. I haven't had any issues so far this year, thank God. I'm just going to continue to do what I love to do -- run, and play the game the way that I'm supposed to play it."