Healthy Reyes not worried about contract
Mets shortstop makes appearance in NYC with Mayor
NEW YORK -- Jose Reyes lent his fame to a good cause Thursday, when he joined forces with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in an effort to combat truancy and absenteeism in New York City schools. Reyes, along with Bloomberg and several other dignitaries, visited Isaac Newton Middle School for Math and Science as part of an initiative to underline the importance of attending class.
Reyes, who is scheduled to show up at the Mets' Spring Training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Tuesday, issued a brief statement in both Spanish and English before meeting with the baseball-centric media after the event. New York's shortstop said several times that he feels strong and healthy, and he added that he's not concerned about his contract heading into the season.
"To be honest with you, right now, I don't think about my contract," said Reyes, who is eligible for free agency after the 2011 season. "I think about helping this team to win a lot of ballgames and see what happens. And to try to play a full year, because the last two years have been kind of tough for me. I just [want] to stay healthy on the field and have whatever happens after."
Reyes, indeed, was limited to leg work last offseason due to an October surgery to correct a torn right hamstring. The three-time All-Star -- who had been held to just 36 games by injuries in 2009 -- started his season late, and he said Thursday that he's been able to concentrate on working out more this winter and will report to camp at 205 pounds.
That's seven pounds above his old playing weight, but Reyes said that it hasn't impacted his speed. In fact, the 27-year-old said he feels fit and fast and that he's looking forward to getting back on the field as soon as possible.
"I spent the winter working out, getting myself strong and 100 percent to go to Spring Training. I can't wait to get there," said Reyes, who has spent his entire career with the Mets. "The last two years have been kind of rough on me. There's no doubt in my mind I'm going to be the same as I played in 2008. There's no doubt in my mind, [because] I've been working so hard this offseason."
Reyes said that he has talked to general manager Sandy Alderson this offseason, but he said that it was more of a personal conversation than one pertaining to business. He also said that they haven't had any talks about a potential extension and that he won't have any deadlines in place this season. Simply put, Reyes wants to play now and worry about money later.
"I just want to play baseball and see what happens," he said. "I don't worry about what anybody says about if they're going to trade me. My main thing here is to play baseball, try to do my job and help the team win a lot of ballgames."
And along the way, perhaps he can positively impact some people's lives.
Bloomberg enlisted the help of several local celebrities for his "Wake Up, NYC" campaign, which is regarded as the city's first multimedia public service campaign to combat absenteeism and truancy. Some students will hear the voice of Reyes or a like-minded local celebrity in the form of a wake-up call to help encourage them to get to class on time.
That phone call, said Bloomberg, may be the inspiration a student needs from a voice it rarely hears.
"Let's review the reasons why these efforts are so important," said Bloomberg as part of his prepared remarks. "In the last five years, one out of every five students missed a month or more of school. ... Just think about that.
"Twenty percent, and that's roughly a quarter of a million kids that were chronically absent. Such serious attendance problems are often a tip-off to a student's untreated health or emotional problems, to neglect or abuse at home or to other problems that need to be addressed right away. Chronic absenteeism also is often a child's first step down the wrong path in life."
Both Bloomberg and Reyes were asked about the Mets' developing situation with Irving Picard, the trustee in charge of recouping funds for victims of the Bernard Madoff financial scam. Bloomberg first said that he doesn't know much about the situation, and later elaborated that he had no plans on purchasing all or part of the Mets in the foreseeable future.
"I don't know anything about [their] relationship with Bernie Madoff," said Bloomberg about the Wilpon family, the owners of the Mets. "I can just tell you the Wilpons have been a very generous family. They've done and supported an awful lot of things in New York City. They're really nice people and really generous, and I just have no idea what their relationship was.
Reyes, for his part, was asked if the team's financial uncertainty would affect his contract negotiations.
"I see some of the stuff, but right now, I'm concentrating on trying to get to Spring Training and trying to get ready for the season," he said, deflecting the question. "It's time to play baseball. I know it's tough, because I think we're a family. But I support them all the way and we'll see what happens. But like I said before, my concern is to play baseball."
Bloomberg also quickly shot down any questions about the potential to purchase all or part of the Mets in the foreseeable future.
"I don't think that I should own a baseball team. I have tickets for the Mets and the Yankees for my daughters to go, and I enjoy baseball, a beer and a box of popcorn. But you can rest assured, I'm not going to buy a baseball team or have an interest in it."
Reyes later responded positively when asked why fans should expect the Mets to contend for the playoffs this season.
"That's the goal for our team, and if everybody stays healthy ... if you see our lineup, we still have a very good lineup," said New York's leadoff hitter. "The only piece that we're going to miss is Johan Santana, and he's probably going to be ready by the middle of the season. I think if we stay healthy -- me, [Carlos] Beltran and Jason Bay -- I think we can be contenders.
"Right now, we don't worry about anything. We're just waiting to go to Spring Training and try to put it together, to see what's going on. Take it one game at a time and see what happens."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.