The Only Problem with Reyes
I love Jose Reyes for so many reasons — his ability, his constant smile, his electric style of play, and his obvious sheer love of playing. But there’s one issue that bothers me: standing at the plate waiting for a hit ball to go foul.
It’s a little thing, I know, but he did it enough in 2007 to annoy the crap out of me, and he’s already done it a few times this spring — most recently, last night in his first at-bat against the Orioles. Most of the time, it’s not a big deal, because the ball does eventually bounce foul. But occasionally — such as last night — the ball is called fair, and there is Jose standing in the batter’s box like a deer in headlights for a moment.
Yes, once he saw the ump call the ball fair, he took off like a bat out of hell and was rounding first before you could blink — I don’t doubt his hustle. But I do doubt his decision to “play umpire” and think about whether the ball is going fair or not. What he should be doing is taking off at full speed immediately after contact, until the umpire calls the ball foul. That’s the way I was taught, and the way everyone else was taught way back in little league: “run hard until someone tells you to stop”.
What added angst to my ire was the quip by Gary Cohen immediately afterward: “oh well, it’s only spring training.” Here’s my issue: what you do in practice, and what you do in spring training, is what you’ll do when the “real” games start.
In July of last year, Reyes was reprimanded and disciplined for “dogging it” during a game. The way I remember it, it was EXACTLY the same situation as yesterday’s “meaningless” contest: Reyes hit a bouncer down the line, and rather than run to first, he watched it, thinking it would go foul. Again, it wasn’t a lack of hustle, but a bad decision — don’t think, just run!
Other than that one little caveat — which has earned him a negative rep as a “dog” by some — Reyes is close to perfect in my book.