Monday, July 09, 2007

Hustle Already

Jose Reyes still has some growing up to do. Nobody made a big deal Tuesday night when Reyes failed to run out a grounder back to the mound in Tuesday night’s blowout loss in Colorado. Randolph removed Reyes after the incident. A blip on the radar, no incident, no news articles, no comments about it. One assumes Randolph quickly handled it in house.

Fast forward to Friday night, a dribbler to third base in the eighth inning of another disappointing Met loss. For a second the ball appeared it could go foul, but Mike Lamb fielded it in fair territory. Where is Jose Reyes during this play? He is still standing at home plate, taking in the scenery. Inexcusable, especially for a speedy player who always has a chance to beat a throw out if an infielder bobbles the ball for a split second. To add insult to injury, Lamb slowly jogged toward first and nonchalantly lobbed it over to record the out.

Randolph pulled Reyes after the inning, and then made it clear after the game that not running hard is unacceptable. Unfortunately, Reyes failed to get the point. The All-Star’s post game demeanor and comments were more whoops, hope it does not happen to me again, rather then apologetic for letting the team down.
Before the next night’s game, Billy Wagner, who never is at a loss for words, backed Randolph, going as far to say Reyes should be benched for the weekend. Wagner finally issued a useful quote, instead of his typical shoot from the hip commentary that becomes bulletin board material in other clubhouses. Wagner called out Reyes. That is veteran leadership, but it begs the question, where the leaders are amongst the everyday players. Pitchers typically deal in there own fraternity. Where was Paul LoDuca, David Wright, Delgado, Beltran? Someone needed to step up publicly and lay into Reyes, enough to wipe the smirk off his face and make sure he gets the point.

A week ago, in the opener of the doubleheader in Philly, Reyes lost his cool following a blown call on a stolen base attempt. Players argue bad calls all the time, Reyes, and his coaches, did well to control the outburst preventing an ejection. Two on the field controversies in the same week. Coincidental string of events, or burgeoning attitude problem?

The lack of hustle becomes a bigger problem since the Mets are struggling. When things go south, every mistake, every negative facial expression, each negative comment, the media magnifies. If the Mets had won 8 of 10, maybe the play becomes an afterthought, addressed in the manager’s office, without any public scrutiny.

I applaud Randolph’s reaction, but comments during an interview earlier Friday afternoon directly contradict his handling of the situation. When questioned during his Friday spot on WFAN about Julio Franco not running out a slow grounder in Colorado, two days after the initial Reyes incident, Randolph claimed it was no big deal. He continued, that there was little chance to beat the throw even if he ran hard, and that its alright since he is 47 years old. Yes, I know comparing Reyes and Franco, is like comparing apples and oranges. As a veteran leader, on the team for little more than clubhouse leadership, given his performance this season, Franco needs to set a better example. How can Franco confront Reyes if he does not run every play out?

The situation diffused over the weekend. Reyes makes his All-Star debut in San Francisco on Tuesday. The break gives Reyes an opportunity to reflect on his actions, or lack thereof, and Randolph’s punishment. Let’s see if he gets the message.


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