PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- All offseason, the assumption around Flushing was that Jose Reyes would return at some point. Reyes, though, says he did his best to keep his mind off a reunion, lest it not come to pass.His wish ultimately came true in January, and Reyes returned to
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- All offseason, the assumption around Flushing was that Jose Reyes would return at some point. Reyes, though, says he did his best to keep his mind off a reunion, lest it not come to pass.
His wish ultimately came true in January, and Reyes returned to Mets camp this weekend, prepared to reprise his role as a super utilityman.
"To be honest with you, I wasn't thinking about it at all," Reyes said of his free agency. "I didn't want to put too much stuff in my head. I know from the bottom of my heart that I want to be here, but I don't want to get crazy in my head. When that happens, I said, 'This is where I wanted to be from the beginning.' This is where I wanted to be, and hopefully finish my career in this uniform."
The Mets will ask Reyes to take reps at second and third base, shortstop and the outfield this spring, understanding the versatility his athleticism provides. Reyes also credited a swing adjustment he made around midseason as the reason he was able to slash .314/.394/.518 with six home runs over his final 38 games. Prior to that, Reyes was hitting .220/.284/.374 in 107 contests.
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"Sometimes as a baseball player, that's going to happen," Reyes said. "I know it was hard for me, the first half of the season, but I never quit. I always continue to work every day and try to improve myself, and I feel like in the second half, I did that. Hopefully, that second half is going to carry over for this year."
No more pencils, no more books
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson likened signing Jason Vargas to taking his last final exam, saying the Mets are almost certainly done shopping for players this offseason. While Alderson acknowledged those who believe the team could use a second left-hander for the bullpen, he believes the 2018 Mets are complete.
"We've come a long way from the Trade Deadline last year," Alderson said, referring to the Mets' midseason selloff of veteran players. "With Jason's signing, we're pretty much where we want to be. … I would be surprised, if not shocked, if somebody else walks into this clubhouse."
Steady as they go
After passing his physical Sunday morning, Vargas officially joined a Mets team counting on him to be a steadying presence for its rotation. Outside of the 2015 and '16 seasons, when he was recovering from Tommy John surgery, Vargas has averaged 188 innings per year this decade.
Vargas does not consider his surgery a factor in the midseason slump that saw him go 2-7 with an 8.13 ERA from July 5 to Sept. 5. Vargas instead blames a mechanical flaw that he believes he corrected in September.
"I think we all like to have an excuse to lean on," Vargas said. "But the fact of the matter is my arm felt great the whole year."
Who says you can't go home?
Four years away from Flushing did not change much for outfielder Matt den Dekker, who arrived back at Mets camp this weekend after the team signed him to a Minor League deal. A 2010 Mets Draft pick who went to the Nationals in a '15 trade for Jerry Blevins, den Dekker bounced to the Tigers and Marlins before returning to the place he calls home.
"It felt pretty good walking in here, knowing some of the guys, knowing a lot of the staff. It makes it a lot easier," said den Dekker, a Florida native who now lives outside Jacksonville.
Still lauded for his defensive acumen, den Dekker gives the Mets some Triple-A depth behind Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo, all of whom are slated to make the Opening Day roster.
"We just thought it would be a good fit," den Dekker said. "Adding to outfield depth, obviously that was important to them. Whether I'm in Vegas or in the big leagues or wherever, I'm just going to use that to work hard."
A special afternoon
Dominic Smith, Nimmo, Steven Matz, Paul Sewald, Ty Kelly and a host of other Mets players, coaches and staffers took to the field on Sunday to conduct a baseball clinic for approximately 80 Special Olympics athletes and their families.