Jose Reyes isn't on the Mets anymore, but that didn't matter to any Mets fan who, last night, happened to hear or see the sound or sight we'd all become so used to over the first nine years of his career: Something bad had happened to Jose Reyes's legs.
Reyes plays for the Blue Jays now (after a year's unhappy sojourn in Miami, and a bittersweet departure from the Mets), but his name was still trending today in New York on Twitter. The early word is that he'll be out for approximately three months with torn ligaments in his ankle.
Reyes's legs, most of the time, are one of baseball's best gifts. When stealing bases, he has the short, quick stride of a sprinter just off the blocks. When he turns a long drive into a triple, Reyes hits top speed just before second base, turns, and motors frantically into third, slides in headfirst, and then hoists himself upright on his knees before he bangs his hands together in a forceful clap or several. His locomotion creates knee angles small enough that the viewer recognizes it as an entirely different kind of running.
But then Reyes's legs often do themselves in. 2003: season-ending ankle sprain. 2004: missed over two months with a strained hamstring, then another six weeks with a stress fracture. (The second injury happened after the Mets hired Reyes a running guru, who screwed him up further.) 2009: calf injury, and then a season-ending torn hamstring tendon. 2011: hamstring strain, more time on the disabled list. And then there was last night:
A freak injury, maybe—a lot like the ankle sprain that felled a 20-year-old Reyes in 2003. But it's hard not to see this, too, as the latest seemingly scripted knife twist in the glorious and tortured history of Reyes's legs. The awkward slide up there came only because he had gotten such a great jump and was speeding toward the base as very few others can. He wasn't expecting a throw.