Hard feelings, nowhere to be found.
The Miami Marlins shortstop faced his former team for the first time Thursday, shaking hands and offering hugs before the game with guys donning the orange-and-blue color scheme he used to wear. Reyes signed a $106 million, six-year deal with the Marlins during the offseason after he said the cash-strapped Mets failed to make him a competitive offer.
“Of course, I’m going to miss the fans there in New York because of all the support they gave to me,” Reyes said. “I’m going to miss that. But like I say, I have new fans now down here in Miami.”
Reyes got mostly applause as he was introduced, though some boos were mixed in as well. The real reaction from New York will come April 24, when the Marlins are set to play at Citi Field for the first time this season.
“This is nothing,” Reyes said. “It’s going to really go crazy when I go back to New York. This is spring training. This is just another game.”
As reunions go, this was uneventful.
Reyes took three practice swings watching R.A. Dickey warm up before the bottom of the first, slapped hands with new Marlins teammate Emilio Bonifacio and made his way into the batters’ box. He looked at a 72 mph strike from Dickey, then grounded out to the pitcher on a 77 mph offering one pitch later.
“Knuckleballs,” Dickey said. “That’s what he was going to get.”
In the third, Reyes reached high to snare Justin Turner’s sharp liner _ his only defensive chance of the game, as he left following a 54-minute rain delay. After Reyes led off the final game of New York’s season last Sept. 28 with a bunt single and effectively clinched the NL batting title, he immediately was replaced in the lineup by Turner as some Mets fans booed his departure.
Another departure came a couple months later, when Reyes headed to Miami.
“I started kind of giggling to myself before he stepped in, just looking over there,” Dickey said. “You know, it’s hard. He’s such an exuberant personality, a great guy, a great teammate. … But when he got in, it was business. He meant it when he got in.”
Reyes hasn’t yet picked a new home in Miami. He’s keeping his New York place for now, and when asked if that still makes him a New Yorker, Reyes flashed his grin and said, “You know it.” He keeps in contact with several Mets, third baseman David Wright among them.
For the most part, he’s fitting in with Miami perfectly.
Most days when he’s not at the spring training facility, Reyes and Hanley Ramirez _ who moved to third base to accommodate Reyes‘ arrival _ are playing PlayStation baseball against one other. Reyes prefers playing as the Red Sox, Ramirez plays as the Phillies, since the game won’t allow them to play Marlins vs. Marlins.