Season's greetings: Reyes back in New York
Marlins shortstop makes first return before Mets fans on Tuesday
WASHINGTON -- His Miami teammates and manager Ozzie Guillen have been gently teasing Jose Reyes in recent days. They're joking that they don't want any tears in the locker room.
And when asked about the subject, Reyes himself smiles and says he's not exactly sure what he's going to feel. But when a player changes teams and goes back to his former city, it's always an emotional time.
For Reyes, New York is waiting.
The Marlins will play in New York for the first time this season on Tuesday. They'll take on the Mets in a three-game series in the city where Reyes was so popular for nine seasons. He left after 2011 to sign a six-year, $106 million deal with Miami.
"I can't wait to get there," Reyes said on Sunday after Miami's game in Washington was rained out. "I think it's going to be a little bit emotional for me because it's the first time going back there after all those years."
Reyes' departure from the Mets rankled some fans, but the team is going to honor him with a pregame video tribute. The Mets certainly should have enough highlights. Reyes ended his time in New York with a .292 batting average, 81 homers and 370 stolen bases.
But he left for the big free-agent deal. That's something that upsets fans in any city. The big question is going to be how those New York fans greet Reyes when he runs onto the field in a different uniform.
Will he get booed? Could there be a standing ovation? Maybe a mix?
"You never know, to be honest with you," Guillen said. "I think ... every day [he wore] the Mets uniform, he did everything he could to win games. The Met fans should be proud he played the way he played for them. I think people should go out there and support him. Hopefully that happens."
Guillen went through a similar situation in his career.
He played 13 seasons for the White Sox (1985-97) before moving on. Guillen remembers returning to Chicago for the first time in another uniform, saying the fans cheered and there was a video tribute. Guillen said that wound up being a very special moment.
Reyes said he's not sure if it's going to be an emotional night. But the bottom line is that he wears a Miami uniform now and plays for the Marlins, not the Mets.
"I have a good memory of that ballpark [and] New York City," Reyes said. "But I'm part of a new family now. So I just have to go there and continue to play baseball and do my job helping this team to win a game."
Helping his team try to win is something Reyes always did with the Mets. He was good in the field, often sparked the offense and did something to catch the fans' attention more often than not. He gave the Mets that rare combination of athletic ability and flash. Reyes could do amazing things, and he could do them with style.
Reyes remembers how the fans cheered him on and said that's something he'll never forget.
"I know [that] the fans there, when I was there, they supported me all the way the way through in tough moments, good moments," Reyes said. "I appreciate that from the fans there."
Guillen said the New York fans should appreciate the way Reyes played while with the Mets because of how hard he competed. He's hoping that will be remembered.
But he just doesn't know -- no one does. The Marlins know Tuesday's a game that Reyes probably has been thinking about. Playing nine years with one team and becoming very popular isn't something that happens every day. So while they're joking around with him, the Marlins are hoping Reyes gets a nice reception.
"He should be treated very well there," Guillen said. "I expect that. If not, well, that happens."
New York is waiting.
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.