NEW YORK — Jose Reyes ditched the dreadlocks. He still wears that signature smile.
Saying it was an exciting and emotional day, Reyes returned to Citi Field on Tuesday for the first time since leaving the New York Mets to sign with Miami. He was taken aback by the media swarm waiting for him in the Marlins dugout, then waved to the crowd after a video tribute and received a mix of cheers – and louder boos – most of the night.
“The funny thing is, when I got here today, I didn’t even know where the visitors’ clubhouse is. So I was kind of lost,” Reyes said.
The speedy shortstop, who spent his first nine seasons in New York, nearly opened the three-game series with a bang when he hit a long drive to left-center leading off the first inning against Johan Santana. Rookie center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis ran it down, though, and robbed Reyes of extra bases with a leaping catch at the 385-foot sign.
A homegrown star, Reyes was a fan favorite with the Mets before signing a $106 million, six-year contract with the Marlins in December. He said New York never made an effort to keep him once he became a free agent, but he has put all that behind him.
In the time since Reyes left, Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz reached an agreement in court with the trustee for Bernard Madoff’s fraud victims that gives the club more financial certainty.
Would he have stayed if the Mets had offered him the same deal the Marlins did?
“It’s too late to think about that,” Reyes said. “I know they have other kinds of problems there. I feel bad, I feel sorry for them. I mean, this is a business, man. ... I can’t think about that (anymore). Like I said, I have a lot of respect for the owners of the New York Mets and everything and I wish all those people the best there.”