Apr 23

April 23.10: Chat Room, Game #17 vs. Braves: Reyes hitting third.

I am not a second guesser and won’t start tonight. So let me go on record now – and again – before the game to denounce the move of Jose Reyes to the third spot in the order.

It will be the first time since 2005 Reyes will bat anywhere other than leadoff.

I don’t care if Reyes gets on four times tonight, I believe in the long term this move will inevitably backfire because eventually it will force the speedy shortstop outside his game.

Reyes, arguably the game’s premier leadoff hitter, is being asked to take his skills to the third slot under the guise of getting more fastballs for the struggling Jason Bay.

You see, explains Manuel, Bay’s problems stem from not getting enough fastballs, and putting a base stealer ahead of him theoretically will get those fastballs. Just out of curiosity, who was the great base stealer ahead of him in Boston? Was it David Ortiz?

For years, the Mets have been telling anybody who would listen Reyes is their offensive catalyst, that him at the top of the order is what gets the team going. So, naturally, when Reyes is just starting to feel comfortable they move him to a position with the high potential of inducing bad plate habits.

However, Reyes insists he’s not going to do all the things when one plays outside himself after being moved to a run-producing slot in the order. There will be no poor pitch selection, no trying to loft the ball and pull, no trying to hit home runs.

Throughout his career Reyes has fallen into these habits after hitting a home run or two. Willie Randolph used to cringe whenever Reyes homered.

“I’m going to be me,’’ Reyes insists. “I’m going to take it like I’m going to be leadoff. He explained it to me. I said, `I don’t have a problem Jerry.’ ’’

Easier said than done. When thrust into an unfamiliar role it is human nature to want to live up to the dynamics of that role. The No. 3 hitter is supposed to be your best hitter, one with the combination of average and power. It is not a speed position.

For the Mets, that player is a healthy Carlos Beltran, and in his absence, David Wright.

But we’re going to get Reyes, who even under ideal circumstances sometimes swings too long.

It will be very easy to fall into bad habits in this role.

A less dramatic solution would be to move Bay out of the clean-up slot, perhaps to No. 2, or maybe temporarily sixth. Instead of moving the player with the problem, the Mets’ solution is to juggle the entire line-up. Not only will Reyes move, but also Wright, Jeff Francoeur and Angel Pagan.

There are other options, but none would fill the leadoff slot as well as Reyes. So, in essence the Mets are weakening two slots in the batting order with this gamble.

The Mets’ offense hasn’t been doing well, but the team had won three of its last four games. Most of the Mets’ problems when they lose have been pitching related.

If John Maine spits the bit tonight, it probably won’t matter what Reyes and Bay do.

Nobody with the Mets – not just Bay – failed to hit against the Cardinals. So, why didn’t Manuel do this then? Oh yeah, because Reyes said he was uncomfortable in that role.

Here’s tonight’s line-up for the Mets:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
John Maine, RP

Apr 10

April 10.10: Chat Room, Game #5 vs. Nationals: Trying to build on a win.

For the first time in nearly a year, the Mets will have Jose Reyes back on the top of the lineup. The Mets were 51-75 during the time Reyes was out with a severe hamstring injury.

“Nobody wants to get hurt,” Reyes said. “I’m happy to be back and playing baseball. It was tough being away.”

Gone, at least for today, is the thought of Reyes batting third. Maybe later this summer, but for now the Mets are just happy to have him back at shortstop.

Another story line this afternoon is Oliver Perez’s first start since last August. Perez, who underwent knee surgery in the offseason, came into camp in excellent condition. So far, during spring training it has not translated into success.

The Mets are coming off a well-rounded 8-2 victory last night over Washington, a game which featured a strong start by Mike Pelfrey and four homers.

Apr 07

April 7.10: Expect pat lineup tonight; Reyes close.

Jerry Manuel said after the Opening Day victory he planned on making no changes with the line-up, which would mean another start for Alex Cora at shortstop and Mike Jacobs hitting clean-up.

Of course, that means changes across the board.

Said Jacobs of going 0-for-4: “My first day hitting in this stadium, obviously in a game, I didn’t pick up the ball real well. As the game went on, it got a little better. But you just chalk it up to just first day and hopefully a lot more days left.’’

Still, I’d rather they go David Wright-Jason Bay in the 3-4 slots, with Jacobs fifth and Jeff Francoeur sixth.

I also don’t have a problem with Cora playing. He usually does the right thing.

Manuel did say he’d try to get all the position players in games during this homestand to make sure everybody gets involved. If you’re selling the concept of “team,’’ then everybody should play.

REYES UPDATE: The news continues to be positive for shortstop Jose Reyes, who reached base four times with two hits and two walks last night in an extended spring training game in Port St. Lucie. Reyes played nine innings of defense.

The Mets believe he will return as scheduled from the disabled list Saturday against Washington.

Reyes started the season on the DL due to a thyroid condition. He missed most of last season with a hamstring injury.

TONIGHT’S STARTER: John Maine, 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA during spring training, will start tonight. I’ll have something on Maine later today.

CHAT ROOM: Don’t forget, I’ll host another Mets Chat Room during tonight’s game. Hope to see you online.

Apr 01

April 1.10: Wrapping up the Day.

A rough day for John Maine this afternoon, with him pitching 4 2/3 innings while being sick. Maine gave up four runs on six hits and four walks and several bouts of nausea caused by a stomach virus.

Maine was not good this spring, and while spring training numbers don’t tell the full story, they are somewhat of a measure. A 7.88 ERA is not good.

Maine is now the No. 2 starter in the Mets’ juggled rotation.

REYES WILL GO ON DL: Shortstop Jose Reyes, who missed most of spring training with a thyroid issue, will open the season on the disabled list. Reyes will be able to come off the disabled list for the April 10 game against Washington.

Reyes says he’s ready.

“My legs are ready,’’ he told reporters. “I’m not that bad swinging the bat. No doubt, I’m more comfortable.’’

RODRIGUEZ LEAVES TEAM: Closer Frankie Rodriguez left the team to attend to a family emergency in Venezuela.

General manager Omar Minaya expects to have him back for the opener. If not, the Mets, who don’t even have an eighth-inning set-up man, would have to scramble for a closer.

POSITION BATTLES: Mike Jacobs, who will make the team as the back-up first baseman, hit is fourth homer of the spring. … Once thought a sure thing to make the bullpen, Ryota Igarashi was hit for two runs in 2/3 innings. The beneficiary of Igarashi’s late spring slide was Raul Valdes, who gave up one run in two-thirds innings.

NOTE: Manager Jerry Manuel said fifth-starter Oliver Perez will work out of the bullpen the first week of season. The Mets broke camp after today’s loss. They’ll play Tampa Bay at St. Petersburg tomorrow and Baltimore in Sarasota Saturday. Mike Pelfrey will get the start tomorrow. The team will work out Sunday at Citi Field.

Mar 05

March 5.10: Reyes out with thyroid issue.

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was scratched from today’s game and will return to New York for tests after it was detected in Thursday’s bloodwork that he could have a thyroid imbalance.

Reyes will be tested through Monday and won’t play until at least Wednesday.

Reyes said he doesn’t feel any differently.

“I don’t know what’s going on, this is the first time I’ve ever had something like this,” Reyes said. “I have to be worried. I can’t do anything.” Reyes also said this issue has nothing to do with his hamstring issues.