Just a few hours before he answered his phone to chat with the Post, Jose Reyes drove by Citi Field.
“I’ve got good memories there,” the Mets’ longtime shortstop said on Thursday. “Shea was my favorite stadium. Very good memories from there.”
At 37, Reyes is a few months younger than his fellow Dominican infielder Robinson Cano, who has four years left on his deal with the Mets, and three-plus years younger than another Dominican legend, Albert Pujols, who is signed through next year with the Angels.
He hasn’t played in the major leagues, however, since the last day of the 2018 season, when the Mets started him at his beloved position (he had turned into a utility man by then) and lifted him after an inning, then saluted him with a scoreboard salute and standing ovation.
He won’t use the R word. “I’m not retired yet,” he said. “…I’m still working out. I’m still in good shape. But if this is it for me then I’m happy.” He understands that the industry has gone younger, he said, and he really struggled in ‘18, putting up a .189/.260/.320 slash line. He wasn’t interested last year, he said, in playing for an independent team.
Besides, time away from the field has allowed Reyes to pursue his second passion: Music. If you haven’t been following his side hustle of many years, which I admittedly hadn’t until I spoke with him, you’re missing out. He’s awesome as a singer and performer, and his YouTube page is a huge hit, with millions of views.
“La Melaza,” his nickname/music handle, has released over 30 songs, including about 10 this year. He built a studio in his Long Island home as well as in the Dominican, allowing him to work while being with his family — which last year welcomed a fifth daughter, Destiny.
“The music that I do, it talks about everything that I went through,” said Reyes, who co-writes the lyrics to his songs. “…I talk about where I come from. I grew up with no money, and I still work hard, and I made it.”
As he hopes to inspire youngsters with his message, Reyes eventually would like to rejoin the Mets, the team that signed him as an amateur and then, following his departure to the Marlins for a nine-figure contract, brought him back following a suspension for a domestic-violence offense.
“I’m looking forward in the future to having a job with the Mets,” he said. “They gave me an opportunity to be who I am, to live a better life. Hopefully in the future, I’ll be working with their young ball players from the Dominican.”
That’s down the road, though. “Now it’s time for me to enjoy life,” he said. And if you’re a fan of his, you can still enjoy his performances, just on a different stage.
P.S.: Reyes knows new Mets manager Luis Rojas from their interactions within the organization as well as their shared heritage. “He’s a very smart guy, very good,” Reyes said of Rojas. “He’s been in the game for a long time. He’s going to do awesome for the team.”
— This week’s Pop Quiz question came from Sam Lerman of Queens: In a 2002 episode of “Law & Order,” district attorney Arthur Branch (Fred Dalton Thompson) asserts that a pitcher made the Hall of Fame by throwing a spitball. Name the pitcher.
— ”The Joe Torre Safe at Home Special” will air Sunday night at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on the YES Network. The Hall of Fame manager will join David Cone, John Franco, Al Leiter, Jorge Posada, Bobby Valentine, Bernie Williams and Todd Zeile in a roundtable discussion of the 2000 Subway World Series, with YES play-by-play man Michael Kay moderating. Proceeds from the program will benefit Torre’s Safe at Home Foundation.
— The Pop Quiz answer is Bob Gibson – not Gaylord Perry, stunningly. If you have a tidbit that connects baseball to popular culture, please send it to me at email@example.com.
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