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Reyes out of starting lineup to clear head

Mets infielder enters as pinch-hitter in sixth, coaxes walk, scores run
Special to MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins decided to bench Jose Reyes for at least a game or two, hoping that the break will help shake his leadoff hitter out of a serious slump.

"You can just ... sense he's really struggling mentally with what his approach is," Collins said before Saturday's game against the Nationals at Citi Field. "I thought I'd give him a day, maybe two, and see if we can get him undone."

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NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins decided to bench Jose Reyes for at least a game or two, hoping that the break will help shake his leadoff hitter out of a serious slump.

"You can just ... sense he's really struggling mentally with what his approach is," Collins said before Saturday's game against the Nationals at Citi Field. "I thought I'd give him a day, maybe two, and see if we can get him undone."

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Reyes said he can't ever remember starting a season this badly at the plate -- his slash line after Saturday was .095/.186/.127 -- and he hasn't been able to use his considerable speed to generate runs. While he could take some measure of comfort that it wasn't impacting the team when the Mets were on a winning streak a week ago, New York has now lost seven of eight.

The frustration is obvious.

"I don't want to say way deep because it's only 17 games into the season, but it's frustrating because I want to do good, man. I want to help this ballclub," Reyes said. "When I am on base, I can make a lot of stuff happen. But I haven't been able to do that so far. So that's kind of frustrating for me. The game that I play is getting on base ... making stuff happen, stealing a base, scoring a run. That's stuff that's good for your ballclub."

Reyes pinch hit in the sixth inning of Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Nationals, drawing a walk off Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez and came around to score on Asdrubal Cabrera's RBI single. He flew out to left in the eighth.

"I don't want him doing much. I don't want him going in and hitting 200 balls in the batting cage. He's already done that," Collins said. "I want him to get away from that."

Asked about whether he thought this was a good idea, Reyes said "I'd rather be out there, but Terry's the manager. He's known me for a long time. If he said I need a break, maybe he got that right."

"It's the same stuff we did with Neil [Walker] last year," Collins said. "We all think he's going to come out of it, but we got to give him a break mentally."

Worth noting

• Mets outfielder Michael Conforto appears to have returned to the form he displayed when he was a rookie sensation in 2015. After hitting just .220 last year, he brought a .345 average into play against the Nationals on Saturday. And the club plans to use him more against left-handers, who have traditionally been a problem for him.

Video: WSH@NYM: Conforto gets Mets on board with leadoff HR

Conforto was not only given his first at-bats against a left-hander this season when he started against Gonzalez, but he hit second in the lineup. In 2016, he hit .104 against southpaws.

"He's swinging the bat great right now," Collins said. "His numbers against left-handed pitching recently have not been great, but right now he's swinging really well. So we're going to see if that plays out and let him hit second."

• Cabrera's hamstring injury turned out to require only one day off. The shortstop returned to the starting lineup on Saturday. ... Collins sounded doubtful that Yoenis Cespedes would be able to pinch-hit on Saturday. The outfielder came out of Thursday's game with a slightly strained hamstring and wasn't able to get flexible enough to pinch-hit on Friday. ... Collins said closer Jeurys Familia would not pitch Saturday after appearing on consecutive days. Addison Reed would be on call in save situations.

Roger Rubin is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.

New York Mets, Michael Conforto, Jose Reyes