Strawberry’s advice to Reyes: Stay in New York
Reyes can become a free agent after the season, so he might be playing his final few games with the Mets. Strawberry, the club’s career leader in home runs and RBIs, was in a similar position back in 1990 as a homegrown star about to hit the open market in his prime.
Fed up with management, Strawberry bolted to sign with his hometown team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. He made his eighth and final All-Star squad the following year before his career was derailed by drugs, alcohol and legal trouble.
“It’s a tough situation to be in. I know if I had to do it all over again, I would have stayed,” Strawberry said. “It looks good on the other side, but it’s not always as good as a place that you’re used to. When you’re young, you don’t realize that. For me, I was young and didn’t realize what New York meant to me. Tell Jose I said New York is a great place. I mean, a great place. No matter what, it’s a great place to play. No matter what you have to go through, how difficult it gets, this is the place where you want to play.”
“I’m not getting into that,” Strawberry said with a smile, drawing laughs. “I did not say that. I have nothing to do with that. All I can say is, I would love to see him stay in New York. New York loves him and Met fans love him. Former players love him, love the way he plays. And I just hope that things work out for both sides and he can continue to play here.”
Strawberry, the 1983 NL Rookie of the Year, helped lead the Mets to their last World Series title in 1986. He also won championship rings with the New York Yankees in 1996, ‘98 and ‘99. He was at Citi Field on Saturday to unveil his All-Stars for Charities Fruit Snacks, with sales helping the Darryl Strawberry Foundation’s Fight for Autism.
“It’s a different type of feeling after you’ve played here for so long and you’ve been successful here. Being successful here, they appreciate it a little bit more than anywhere else you go,” he said. “You’re just another player in other places, but the fans here never forget. The legacy that you leave for yourself here, it’s incredible. And Jose has a chance to do that. He’s a remarkable player. He’s had some wonderful, wonderful years, done some wonderful things and he still has a chance to do some greater things before his career is all over.
“It’s a place that cares about him, and that’s what you’ve got to look at. The fans deeply care about him. You look around and you see people wearing No. 7. That speaks for itself.”
Reyes has politely sidestepped most questions about his future all year, saying he doesn’t want to be distracted on the field. After the season is over, the speedy shortstop will turn his attention to free agency.
“Everything is a consideration,” Reyes said. “Like I always say, I don’t want to leave here. I want to stay.”
“It’s a real struggle for him. He’s battling. He’s not quitting. He’s fighting. He’s fighting for his life,” said the 49-year-old Strawberry, a colon cancer survivor. “Now he’s in the biggest battle of his life. You just continue to pray for him and your thoughts are with him and his family at this time, and hopefully there’s a miracle. Because sometimes you need a miracle. I’ve had a few miracles and I just hope and wish that Gary has his.”