PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Working with Mets doctors and rehabilitation specialists, shortstop Jose Reyes spent the winter in New York making sure his hamstring healed properly.
"I only went [home] to the Dominican Republic for two weeks, at Christmas," Reyes said during a discussion the other day. "It was hard. My family is very important, but this is very important for me. I depend on it for my game."
The rehab culiminated last week, when Reyes arrived in Port St. Lucie on Monday and began running outside on real grass for the first time since tearing his hamstring last summer.
"It's been better than I expected," he said. "It's been very good. Nothing to worry about."
It was something to worry about a few months ago, mainly in the immediate aftermath of the surgery.
"The first two weeks after the surgery there was a little concern because my leg felt weak," Reyes said. "I said I want to work hard and I know I'm going to be fine, and I've been doing that the past three months. And now I'm ready to go.
"I'm real glad with the work I did with the guys in New York."
He started running four or five weeks ago, he said, and it felt good when he did because he was a little scared of what might happen.
"You have to get that explosion in your first few steps," he said. "For the first month or two, that's always in your mind when you're running."
Reyes says he believes his problem last summer was that he tried to come back too soon, feeling a responsibility to return "because we have so many injuries."
As the summer wore on, he said he became so depressed at his mounting count of games missed that he reached a point where he couldn't even watch the Mets on television.
Now, he's back running on the Technicolor grass, moving fluidly to his right and ranging left into the hole to field grounders and, in a related development, smiling big.
There's no more concern when he runs, he says. The only difference is in his preparation.
At the direction of the medical staff, he warms up hard before stepping onto the field with a routine of stretching and riding an indoor stationary bicycle. It is a routine he will continue before every game this season, he says.
Otherwise, "I'm just trying to get ready for the season. I don't see big-league pitchers in a long time. I have to get ready, get back into baseball shape."
Sunblock Day? Sure is. Temperature zooming up to 80. Even avoided the rain that was supposed to hit the eastern side of Florida.
Likes: Don't look now, Mets fans, but manager Jerry Manuel and his staff were thrilled at Oliver Perez's first live bullpen of the spring the other day. What really struck Manuel is that Perez's foot was consistently landing in the same place on the mound upon his delivery. Ace Johan Santana was in the group and pointed that out to Perez as well. When Oliver is on, as we've seen, he can be nasty. But he's never graduated from diamond-in-the-rough status because he's never been able to harness his mechanics. Often, his landing foot hits the ground in different places upon his delivery. It's no coincicdence that Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax spent time with Perez on Monday. ... Veteran Kelvim Escobar, in camp fighting for a bullpen job, says he thinks his shoulder is advanced enough that he has a chance to be ready for opening day. Escobar always has been a class act, I wish him well. ... Good move by Mets GM Omar Minaya in hiring Wayne Krivsky, the former Reds GM and assistant GM in Minnesota and Texas, as an adviser during the offseason. ... The Oscars are coming, and you can do a whole lot worse than seeing Precious. It's depressing, yes, but it is really well done. ... I can honestly say Le Tub has not lost its burger magic. Had a chance to visit my favorite place the other afternoon, dinner in a driftwood booth on the Intracoastal waterway in the hot late afternoon sun while the boats cruised past. Terrific burger, as usual. There's one pound of meat in those bad boys.
Dislikes: Really hate to see Khalil Greene not show up to Texas' camp because of a return of his anxiety issues. Greene is a good kid who once was a terrific player. I hope he can get his issues resolved and join the Rangers soon. His 2009 manager, Tony La Russa, grimaced when told the news Monday morning. La Russa expressed dismay that he hadn't yet phoned Greene to wish him well with Texas, something he's been planning to do.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Pale invaders and tanned crusaders
"Are worshipping the sun
"On the corner of 'walk' and 'don't walk'
"Somewhere on US 1
"I'm back to livin' Floridays
"Blue skies and ultra-violet Rays
"Lookin' for better days"
-- Jimmy Buffett, Floridays