Jo Jo Reyes was the Braves' second round pick in the 2003 draft. Right off the bat, he was identified as a steal for the Braves, who believed Reyes was one of the top prep lefties in the draft that year. But injuries to his elbow and knee have limited his development. Here's our interview with Jo Jo Reyes.
SHANKS: Tell me what happened to your knee.
REYES: The last official game of the season…I was covering first and I was on a full sprint and it just gave out. The knee just gave out. It feels like when you twist your ankle and it pops. That's what it felt like in my knee. Torn ACL. I had surgery on September 3rd. I stayed there for the championship series, and then I came back here before I went to Atlanta.
SHANKS: How did you feel like you were doing with your arm before your knee injury?
REYES: Arm was a little tired, but it felt good. It started to come along at the end, and I started to get my strength back. But last year I wanted to make sure to get through the season with my arm okay. I kind of got bummed out at the end and a little down. This year to come back in spring training, everything feels good, so everything's on a high note right now.
SHANKS: How were you feeling about your arm?
REYES: I thought it was good. It was just fatigue from throwing and all the rehab. But other than that, it felt good. Strong. I felt like it came along perfect.
SHANKS: Did you get your velocity back?
REYES: Toward the end I was.
SHANKS: It's been kind of a whirlwind for you the last twenty-four months.
REYES: You can't control it. You've just got to go out there and play. You can't worry about injuries or else you will injure yourself.
SHANKS: You bounced back quickly from that ACL.
REYES: Yeah I really wanted to work hard and get back. I did not want to miss any of the season. I know how it is. It's not a good thing to sit and watch your buddies play and you stay back rehabbing. So I busted it pretty hard to get back for spring training.
SHANKS: When did you leave with your elbow in 2004?
REYES: Right at the All-star break. I think I threw about 70 innings.
SHANKS: You're heading to Rome. What are your goals - to finish at Myrtle Beach?
REYES: Us players don't have control over where they send us and what they want us to do. All we can do is just go out there and do our job and compete. So I‘m just ready to go out there and be healthy and compete the way I can and let everything happen.
SHANKS: What's important to you? Get your full innings in?
REYES: That's real important. And the other thing is to look back and say, "Hey I gave it my all and there it was all on the table."
SHANKS: I told someone the other day that didn't know much about you how you were the one everyone thought might shoot through the system a little bit. It shows you how injuries can slow you down and humble you a bit.
REYES: Yeah it does take time. I really wasn't looking at myself as being that one guy. You've just got to go out there and be yourself basically. You can't be anybody else. You've just got to go out there and be yourself and compete the way you know how to do and then everything will happen for you.
SHANKS: Pitching-wise, how is your arm now compared to late last season?
REYES: Pitching-wise I learned a lot in the last years of rehab…just pitching, learning how to use different stuff when I didn't have my velocity. This year it feels great. It feels great just to have the velocity back, along with the arm strength, and being able to move in and out, and changing up speeds. It just feels good. It feels like I learned a lot.
SHANKS: Sounds like you've learned how to pitch.
REYES: Pitch - right. Instead of going out there and blowing a fastball by some guy. Yesterday I threw to the Double-A hitters and there are different hitters over there. They're good.
SHANKS: So what has your velocity topped out at?
REYES: I've topped out at 93 down here.
SHANKS: What were you before the injury?
REYES: About the same. It‘s pretty much back. I still need to get into shape a little more. I can feel my arm get a little tired right when I‘m done. But that‘s coming along.
SHANKS: How about your breaking stuff? How have those pitches come back?
REYES: Last year the curveball was pretty rough. I didn't have the same arm speed since surgery, but this year it feels a lot better.
SHANKS: So do you feel like you're back to where you were before the Tommy John?
REYES: Yeah it does…maybe a little more. I just feel like I'm a little higher than I was before surgery.
SHANKS: It sounds like your arm is back, and yet now you have the knowledge that you would have had even if had been pitching the last two years.
REYES: Yeah like the first year at Rome I really didn't know coming out of high school what the hitters would be like in Low-A. Then last year I learned going back to Danville, a lower level than Rome, I could use all my pitches. I learned to trust myself.
SHANKS: It might have happened anyway, but it's funny how an injury almost allowed that to happen.
REYES: Right. You learn your body a lot more. If I'm a little sore, I know what to do now to make it stronger. I know what to do body-wise to make myself better if I'm a little sore or a little tight.
SHANKS: Is there almost some relief that you've gotten Tommy John surgery out of the way and now you won't have to worry about that?
REYES: Yeah a lot of people have had it. It's kind of a new thing now. It's benefited some guys. It's not that bad of a surgery. The only thing that's bad about it is you're missing the fun of playing. Being out and watching everybody playing and moving up in the organization. You say, "Man, I wish I was playing right now and showing them what I‘ve got. But it‘s a long process, and in the end it‘s good.
SHANKS: And while you could have been preparing for AA if you had not gotten hurt, you know that you could bounce back and be in AA next season if everything goes well.
REYES: Yeah I feel that way. If I go out there and do what I need to do and just let everything happen it's going to happen.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional front office philosophies. Email Bill at email@example.com.
Jo Jo Reyes Interview
Atlanta Dugout Top Stories
Braves sign Sam Freeman to minor-league dealSam Freeman has found a new home for next season, as reports indicate that Freeman has signed with the Atlanta Braves in a minor league deal.
Hardball ScoopFriday at 2:08 PM
MLB Ballpark Experience RankingsThe Stadium Journey staff fanned out to all 30 MLB ballparks to establish this year’s rankings. Each stadium was evaluated based on our FANFARE scale which includes 1) an…
Stadium JourneyWednesday at 8:27 AM
Unbeaten streak ends, Tribe falls 5-1 in ALCSA nine-game winning streak and unbeaten October came to a screeching halt on Tuesday afternoon when the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Cleveland Indians by a score of 5-1 from…
Indians Baseball InsiderTuesday at 3:25 PM
Brian Snitker to manage Braves in 2017After a successful second half as the interim skipper, Brian Snitker will return to the Atlanta Braves to manage in 2017. Two new coaches will also join his staff.