Clubhouse Confidential: Reyes leads the way

Over the last couple of weeks – perhaps spurred on by the popularity of the World Cup – Shea Stadium fans have taken to serenading Jose Reyes' at-bats with chants of "Jose, Jose, Jose," in a style that seems better suited for international soccer.

But somehow around the area of Flushing, New York, it has become fitting, because Reyes' appearances have increasingly become more and more of an event to behold.

Reyes extended his hitting streak to 10 games on Thursday, singling in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds. That hit came just a mere half-day after Reyes hit for the ninth cycle in Mets club history, the first since Eric Valent in 2004.

The knock critics liked to use with the 23-year-old Reyes had been to point out his pedestrian on-base percentage, which registered at just .298 for the month of May. But Reyes' June has been hot, with the leadoff hitter batting .387 and compiling a .452 on-base percentage through Wednesday, sparking the top of the lineup for the first place Mets.

At this point in his career, the recent stretch could be more representative of Reyes' bubbling potential, rather than an indication that he is now blossoming into one of the game's premier leadoff hitters. But the Mets must be satisfied to ride Reyes' glimpse, however long it may last.

"I feel like in the future, he's going to be very much like that kind of impact player," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "Obviously, he's not going to hit for the cycle every day, but he is that electrifying."

Earlier this season, Reyes fell a triple short of hitting for the cycle – a feat he said he'd never accomplished at any level.

But Reyes took care of business on Wednesday, homering in the first inning off Cincinnati starter Joe Mays – Reyes' fourth career leadoff shot – before doubling in the second inning, tripling in the fifth inning and finishing the circuit with a line drive single to center against eventual winning pitcher Jason Standridge.

"I just tried not to put anything in my head," Reyes said. "I just tried to stay up the middle and that's what I did."

Reyes called Wednesday's contest the best game of his life, but there seemed to be very little let-down as the Mets went into Thursday's action. Reyes singled and then stole a pair of bases in the first inning, increasing his major league leading total to 32 swipes.

Later in the game, he further displayed his growing grasp of the game by taking third base when the Reds left it unmanned on a fielder's choice.

"I have to feel happy about what I did," Reyes said.

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Chances are, Chris Woodward will look back on Reyes' cycle fondly in about three years, recalling pitch-for-pitch how the evening progressed.

That's because Woodward seems to have a fondness for recalling the play-by-play of certain important moments, relaying the blow-by-blow details of Carlos Delgado's four-home run day on Sept. 25, 2003 against the Devil Rays.

"It's kind of like Reyes (Wednesday)," Woodward said. "Any time you have a chance to be there for something special like that, it kind of sticks in your head."

Delgado's four-homer day was a topic of discussion in the clubhouse Thursday as the Mets prepare for a weekend series in Toronto, marking Delgado's first trip back to the city where he became an offensive icon, playing nearly 11 seasons and twice earning selection as an American League All-Star.

Delgado's fourth home run of that game was a solo shot off Tampa Bay reliever Lance Carter that threatened to interrupt some fine dining in the center field restaurant at what is now known as the Rogers Centre, just as his first shot of the day had.

"Everybody (in the dugout) was just like, 'Oh my God,'" Woodward said. "It was the most incredible thing I'd ever seen."

Asked about the return to Toronto, Delgado originally quipped, "So what?" But the first baseman – who will celebrate his 34th birthday on Sunday in Toronto – relented, saying that he was looking forward to the brief trip and spotting familiar faces in the crowd.

"I think it's going to be a pretty cool weekend," Delgado said. "I think it's going to be hectic as hell, though, [with] the media asking why I'm not [there]. I was there for almost 11 years. I have a lot of good memories."

Unlike some players, Delgado legitimately seemed to enjoy his time in Canada, interacting with the Toronto community and getting to know some of the hotspots in town – even soaking up local flavor by attending a few Maple Leafs games and trying, unsuccessfully, to skate (there aren't too many ice rinks in Puerto Rico).

Delgado said he'd try to visit as many friendly faces as possible during the trip, which could prove a daunting task with a day game Saturday before getaway day Sunday. He also said he was expecting a warm reception from the Blue Jays faithful.

"I don't think there was anything I did wrong, but you never know," Delgado said. "I got to know the city, I got to know the people and I really enjoyed my time there."

Woodward agreed, but acknowledged there might be some negative response.

"There's no reason for them (to boo), unless they're mad they don't have him anymore," Woodward said. "But that's a pretty good reason."

* * *

Brooklyn Cyclones reliever Joe Smith, the Mets' third-round selection out of Wright State (Ohio) University, was at Shea Stadium this week to throw a bullpen session in front of pitching coach Rick Peterson.

But Smith – who took the loss in Brooklyn's crushing loss to Staten Island Wednesday -- said the real thrill was getting to meet Chad Bradford, the Mets' submarine-style reliever and something of a model for the side-arming Smith.

In a draft day interview with Inside Pitch, Smith laughed that when he plays baseball video games, he always makes the 31-year-old Bradford his first-round selection.

Asked about it Thursday, Bradford said he was flattered by the gesture, but noted that he probably wouldn't make the same moves if granted managerial control over a virtual baseball team.

"He's probably the only one who does that," Bradford said. "Him and my son (Keller, 11)."

Bradford said he didn't see much of Smith's session, but peeked into the bullpen for a few pitches during batting practice – his curiosity piqued by seeing another sidearming hurler firing in the bullpen. Bradford said he was impressed by Smith's low-90s velocity and his sinker, which shows good, heavy drop.

"He looks like he works hard, like he's a great kid," Bradford said. "The velocity's the big thing, when you can get that kind of speed from down there."

* * *

Knowing Cliff Floyd and his prior commentaries on the lack of … well, anything to do in Port St. Lucie, Fla., one can only imagine how thrilled the outfielder might be if he's finally allowed to suit up for the St. Lucie Mets, en route to activation.

Randolph said Thursday that Floyd (sprained ankle) could play in a rehabilitation game that evening, serving as a designated hitter. Floyd has not played since he was injured running the bases June 6 at Los Angeles, and has been making use of the specialized hydrotherapy pool the Mets have purchased for their training facilities.

Randolph said he remained hopeful Floyd would be able to join the team in Toronto.

"The key now is just to get him in action," Randolph said.

Contact Inside Pitch's Bryan Hoch at

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