PORT ST. LUCIE — Jose Reyes is ready to give it a shot.
After 1,622 career major league games, all of them in the infield, Reyes will try to learn a new trick or two this spring as the Mets attempt to add center field to his list of potential positions.
“I talked to Juan [Lagares] a little bit,” Reyes said Friday at Tradition Field. “He said, ‘You know, you have to be ready to run there, center field, because there are a lot of gaps there.’ I said, ‘Well, I’m healthy, so I am looking for the challenge.’ ”
Curtis Granderson and Lagares are clearly ahead of Reyes on the depth chart in center, but manager Terry Collins said he wants another option to provide flexibility in the late innings or if an injury occurs.
Reyes, 33, can expect to see most of his action as a backup at third base, shortstop and second base. Last season, after arriving on a minor league contract in early July, Reyes became the primary third baseman as David Wright recovered from season-ending surgery to correct a herniated disk in his neck.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do [at leadoff] if he’s not in there,” Collins said. “But I do want to get him in that leadoff spot as much as we can.”
Wright continues to battle spinal stenosis and Neil Walker is coming off surgery for a herniated disk in his back. Asdrubal Cabrera battled a strained knee tendon for much of last season. All three will be monitored closely in 2017 and given plenty of days off, providing Reyes with opportunities to play.
“You have got bad back, bad back, bad knee,” Collins said. “And a bad back at first [Lucas Duda], so we have got to keep them healthy. The days off early in the year might be more than normal because I just think we have some depth. We’ve never had this kind of depth before.”
Reyes missed spring training with the Rockies last season after his arrest the previous October on domestic violence charges. He was subsequently suspended for 52 games by MLB before the Rockies released him.
“At this time last year I was in New York, working out with my trainer,” Reyes said. “This year I am here to focus on baseball, so it’s going to be a huge difference for me, because I am in spring training since the first day.
“Last year I wasn’t able to do that at all. I was kind of frustrated a little bit. This year I am here and ready to go, so I can’t wait to be on the field and do whatever Terry asks me to do.”
Reyes never got a full reunion with Wright last season — they were teammates with the Mets from 2004-11 — but hopes they are on the field together this year.
“I can’t wait for that to happen,” Reyes said. “I never imagined I was going to be in this situation where I am going to be here and play again with the New York Mets and be here with D. Wright. He is my big brother, so we have got a lot of love for each other, so just to be here in the same locker room, I can’t still believe it.”