Sunday, April 19, 2015

How Snakebitten Is Jose Reyes?

Early in the Yankees' Opening Day loss to the Blue Jays a couple weeks ago, Jose Reyes reached on an error and Toronto's training staff was called onto the field when Reyes appeared to injure himself sliding into second base. Naturally, Yankees fans started to jeer. "Of course!" we yelled. "Reyes only makes it three innings into the season before he gets hurt." A middle-aged Hispanic woman sitting in my section explained, "We usually love all the Dominican players, but Jose just always gets hurt."

It turned out that Reyes was okay after that play, but the crowd's reaction was telling. In his years with the Mets, New York fans had learned not to trust Reyes' brilliance, since the DL Gremlin was always lurking.

A few days ago, Toronto revealed that Reyes has a fractured rib and is also struggling with a muscle strain in the same area of his body. The team will make a decision about whether to put the shortstop on the disabled list on Tuesday. Reyes has put up a slash line of .324/.350/.405 early in the season, production that's more or less in line with his career numbers. Those stats make his injury even more frustrating for Toronto, because now they'll have to swap an All-Star for Steve Tolleson or some other replacement-level scrub.

Last year, after Reyes suffered a hamstring injury in Toronto's first game of the season, I wrote:

"Now, it's clear that the Mets were wise to let Reyes sign with the Marlins for six years and $106 million in 2012. After a strong, injury-free year with Miami, he was traded to the Blue Jays and re-boarded the Medic Express for half of last season. And this year he went down before he even played a full inning."

Reyes ended up suiting up for 143 above-average games in 2014, but it's a nightmare to always be waiting for his fra-gee-lay past to catch up with him. Wouldn't you rather have a guy like Kansas City's Alcides Escobar or Chicago's Alexei Ramirez, unspectacular but always on the field? When you factor in the replacement-level production Toronto must live with in Reyes' absence, it would definitely be better to have one of those more durable generic-brand guys.

There's a scene in Saving Private Ryan in which Wade shivers and asks for "a little more morphine" when it becomes clear that he won't survive a bad stomach wound. Here's a doctored image I created about Reyes:



I don't mean to poke fun at Reyes, but it's hard not to poke fun at Reyes. So, yeah, I guess I'm poking fun at Reyes. Whether he's injury-prone and fragile or just plain unlucky, the snakebitten shortstop hurts Toronto with every game he misses. And as a Yankees fan, I'm not complaining.



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