- Ian O'Connor, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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On his first trip to Citi Field in enemy colors, Jose Reyes said the New York Mets did not make any attempt to re-sign him in the offseason, and that their inaction left him to confront a simple conclusion.
"If they don't make me any offer," the Miami Marlins shortstop said, "that means they don't want me to play here. That's why I play for another team now."
Wearing a black muscle shirt and orange wristbands as he sat in the visitors dugout on Tuesday, hours before the Mets played a video tribute to his nine seasons in New York, Reyes repeatedly told a large circle of reporters that he no longer fretted over his former team's decision to sit out his free-agent courtship.
Reyes maintained throughout the 2011 season that he wanted to remain a Met, even after he rejected general manager Sandy Alderson's attempt to open contract negotiations last June. When asked if he would've stayed with the team that signed him as a teenager in the event it had matched Miami's six-year, $106-million offer, Reyes said: "That's in the past. If I say yes, if I say no, that's not going to change anything. ... I can't say if I was going to stay here or not because they didn't offer anything."
The Mets' decision to let Reyes go was inspired, in part, by the Bernie Madoff scandal and the possibility that the owning Wilpons could lose hundreds of millions of dollars at trial. With that case now settled, and with Mets owners expected to take a relatively negligible financial hit, Reyes was asked if the Mets might've signed him under the existing circumstances.
"It's too late to think about that," he said. "I know they had a kind of problem there. I feel bad and feel sorry for them, but this is a business. I mean, they don't offer anything. That's in the past. I can't think about that anymore. I have a lot of respect for the organization and wish all of the people there the best."
Reyes supported the idea the Mets should sign David Wright to an extension because "David is the face of the franchise" and because "he's a guy who plays the game with a lot of passion, too, and he loves to win." Reyes said he watched a couple innings of the Mets' doubleheader loss to San Francisco in his Long Island home on Monday, and that he ran into some fans in the city.
"I had a lot of people say, 'Welcome back to New York,' " Reyes said, "and that was good to see. That means they still love me here."
Reyes said when he arrived at Citi Field on Tuesday, "I didn't even know where the visitor clubhouse is, so I was kind of lost." The shortstop maintained he would accept any reaction from the Mets crowd, good or bad, but he hopes fans understood he gave them everything he had when healthy.
"It was kind of weird for me a little bit," Reyes said. "But after the third inning, everything goes away and you just focus on playing baseball."
The speedy shortstop finished 0 for 4 in his team's 2-1 loss and was robbed of extra bases on a leaping catch at the fence by rookie center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis leading off the game. Reyes received a mix of cheers -- and louder boos -- most of the night from the crowd.
"Not surprised," Wright said. "Some of them understood the situation and others I guess will never forgive him."
Minutes before the first pitch, the Mets showed a tribute to Reyes on the big video board as he watched from the dugout. The screen then read: "Thanks for the Memories!"
Reyes popped onto the field, smiled and waved quickly to a sparse crowd that was still filing in and then disappeared back underneath.
"I don't need to watch the video to know how good he was. I saw it firsthand," Mets manager Terry Collins said before the game.
Cameras clicked away as Reyes came onto the field for batting practice and enthusiastically greeted a few former teammates. Not everyone at Citi Field gave him a warm greeting, though.
A group of fans in left field chanted his name and held a sign thanking him. Three others perched behind the Miami dugout called Reyes a traitor and wore big, red Xs over his name and number as he played catch next to Marlins buddy Hanley Ramirez.
"Hanley, don't stand in front of Reyes. He may stab you in the back," one yelled.
The announced attendance was 20,192, the smallest of the season at Citi Field.
"It's good to get it out of the way," Reyes said of his first game back at Citi Field. "Tomorrow, I'll have a better idea. But it's good to see my buddies over there. I played for them for a long time."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
On his first trip to Citi Field in enemy colors, Jose Reyes said the Mets did not make any attempt to re-sign him in the offseason, and that their inaction left him to confront a simple conclusion: