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Mets’ Reyes could bat third... for a little while

Mets manager Jerry Manuel has already come up with his first big idea of the spring; he wants to bat usual leadoff man Jose Reyes third, though only until Carlos Beltran returns from knee surgery. “Reyes, in my opinion, has evolved,” Manuel told the New York Post “I could really stretch our lineup out if he is able to handle that spot.” By stretching out the lineup, Manuel means he could place his lousier hitters at both the top and bottom of the order, rather than congregate them all in the fifth-through-eighth spots. Reyes told SNY that he would be OK with the idea: “Whatever spot he puts me in the lineup, I’m going to be able to do it. Whatever is best for the team, I’m going to do it. So let’s see what happens. He said when Beltran comes back, I’m going to be the leadoff guy again. I don’t know if he’s sure right now. We just talked about it yesterday. He doesn’t know if it’s going to happen or not. He’s going to think about it... He’s the boss. Whatever he says I’ll do it. I just want to be on the field playing baseball.” I naturally assumed that David Wright, the best OBP guy on the team, would bat third with Beltran sidelined. However, it looks like Manuel still wants him in the fifth spot. As things stand now, this could be the Mets’ Opening Day lineup, along with each player’s career OBP: 1. Angel Pagan - CF - .331 2. Luis Castillo - 2B - .369 3. Jose Reyes - SS - .337 4. Jason Bay - LF - .376 5. David Wright - 3B - .389 6. Jeff Francoeur - RF - .311 7. David Murphy - 1B - .331 8. Omir Santos - C - .290 Reyes’ career mark doesn’t describe the player he is now -- he’s been between .350 and .360 each of the last four seasons (including the 36 games last year before he got hurt). But to say that he’s evolved is baffling. He took a huge step forward in 2006, but he hasn’t gotten any better at all since. There’s little if anything to be gained by moving him down to the third spot for a month, and it actually could spell disaster if Reyes thinks it means he should focus more on hitting for power than getting on base.