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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 10, 2010

MLB: Mets star Reyes back in lineup after 11 months

AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK Jose Reyes was back in the starting lineup and batting first for the New York Mets on Saturday against the Washington Nationals.

"It's good to be back," he said.

The All-Star shortstop was sidelined all but 36 games last year by a hamstring problem, then missed most of spring training with a hyperactive thyroid.

Hyperactive might be a good way to describe him in the clubhouse Saturday.

Reyes bounced around the room with an enormous smile on his face, joking with anybody who stopped by his locker to wish him luck. After taking batting practice, he was greeted in the dugout by general manager Omar Minaya, who gave him a big hug.

"He brings such energy to the team," Minaya said. "I was thinking about that this morning, it's been almost a year, 11 months, since he's been on the field. It's nice to have him back."

Reyes hasn't played since May 20 because of the hamstring injury, which the team initially hoped would be resolved with rest and rehabilitation. While he was running during rehab, though, a new tear developed in his right hamstring and he had surgery in October.

The bad luck that followed him all season wasn't done.

Reyes arrived at spring training ready to play, but doctors detected an abnormality during a physical and he was taken out of the lineup for tests. The thyroid problem was discovered and Reyes was forced to sit out a few weeks, forcing him to miss the first four games of the season while he got in shape in the minors.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel said he's not worried about any lingering issues, and plans to keep Reyes in the lineup for at least the next four games.

"I think this is just the freedom that you have to give a player when he hasn't played as long as it's been," Manuel said. "You know, he's excited, and you have to hope that excitement rubs off on the team, No. 1, and No. 2, he's somewhat controlled for his sake.

"You just have to sit and watch him play with that enthusiasm and joy that he brings."

That spark was missing much of last season, when the Mets beset by injuries to Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and just about everybody else struggled to a 70-92 finish.

Jeff Francoeur was among the players who couldn't help but smile when they saw Reyes sitting in the corner of the clubhouse. Francoeur arrived midseason last year, after the star shortstop had already gone on the disabled list.

"It just occurred to me that I haven't even played with him yet," Francoeur said.

While his teammates were certainly glad to see Reyes putting on his uniform, a short walk across the infield and into the other clubhouse made it clear that not everybody at Citi Field was thrilled to see his name atop the batting order.

"He's a dynamic player," said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman, comparing Reyes to Nyjer Morgan, Washington's speedy outfielder. "He's a high-energy player, which can really add to the ballclub."