TORONTO – On Tuesday night, Jose Reyes extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an infield single off of Rays starter Alex Cobb. For the first time in his tenure with the Blue Jays, the superstar shortstop is healthy and wreaking havoc on the bases.
He's once again the catalyst that made him famous - not to mention rich - and a current teammate who watched Reyes up close while with the Mets likes what he's seeing.
“I think it's just really a matter of health for him, but as far as what he's showing it is very similar to the guy that won the batting title the year that I was with him in New York,” knuckleballer R.A. Dickey told TSN.ca.
The year to which Dickey is referring is 2011, Reyes's last of nine seasons with the club that signed him as a 16-year-old amateur free agent in 1999. Reyes hit .337/.384/.493, career bests to this day. He walked more times that year (43) than he struck out (41), which has happened only one other time. It could occur again this season; so far Reyes has taken 15 free passes and whiffed 15 times.
Reyes already has 11 stolen bases, only four shy of his injury-plagued 2013 total. He's been caught stealing only once. With Melky Cabrera hitting behind Reyes, manager John Gibbons has executed the hit-and-run and Cabrera's found the holes created by the defence.
“The thing that I thought made him so special was there were so many different ways that he could impact a game in New York,” said Dickey. “Last year he was limited with his ankle injury and you didn't really get to see what he was capable of doing at all, really, because when he came back he was still kind of limping around.”
The Blue Jays have been at or near the top of baseball in key offensive statistics like home runs (76 – 1st), slugging percentage (.450 – 2nd), on-base plus slugging (.781 – 2nd) and walks (179 – 6th). They've been creeping up the ladder in on-base percentage and now sit fourth in the majors (.331).
“The genesis of any good team is guys with good on-base percentage,” said Dickey. “I think what we're seeing this year that we might not have had much consistency with last year is that factor. Guys are getting on base. Pillar, Gose, Tolleson's a big pick up the way he's playing. Melky's on base all the time.”
Dickey, the pitcher, then offers a thought on what it must be like to be a mound opponent of the Blue Jays these days.
“The less breaths that you're allowed to take, the harder the outing,” said Dickey. “Really, in our lineup the way that it's going, you have to hold your breath the whole game and that's tough on a starter because you constantly have to execute pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch and you're not really allowed to have a lapse. When you feel like you can't have a lapse, or else, it can influence other pitches.”
RASMUS' REHAB PLAN
Colby Rasmus, on the disabled list since May 13 with tightness in his right hamstring, would prefer to avoid a minor-league rehabilitation assignment and get right back into the Blue Jays' line-up when he's activated.
The sentiment isn't shared by his skipper.
“He needs to go down and play,” said manager John Gibbons. “He's been doing some running and things like that. The trainers, they usually come to me when he's about ready and we put a game plan together. But, yeah, he needs to go down and play some games.”
The Blue Jays are enthused about the platoon combination of Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar the club has employed since Rasmus got hurt. Entering Tuesday's action, in the 13 games Rasmus has missed, the Jays have gone 11-2. Gose's speed has created runs on offence and he's often made difficult plays look routine in centre field.