DUNEDIN, Fla. — Jose Reyes bounced around the clubhouse exuding his usual energy and joked with a few teammates before putting on his Toronto Blue Jays’ uniform.
Back from helping the Dominican Republic win the World Baseball Classic, Reyes is eager to help his new team contend in a tough AL East. There’s no WBC hangover for the four-time All-Star shortstop.
“I don’t want to play down. I want to play the same way I played in the WBC because the season is right around the corner,” Reyes said Friday. “I’m going to continue to work on my game and be ready to go.”
Reyes was back in the leadoff spot in Toronto’s lineup for the first time since March 2. He went 0 for 1 with two walks in a 1-0 win over Boston.
Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion also returned to the team after playing for the Dominican Republic. He didn’t start against the Red Sox because of a finger injury.
The laid-back atmosphere at spring training doesn’t compare to the intensity level of the WBC games where there’s so much pride at stake playing for your country. While Reyes doesn’t need much motivation, other players could take a little time to adjust.
“I’m sure it’ll be a little bit of a letdown,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “I’m sure they’re glad to be back with their team. A guy like Reyes, he’s enthusiastic about everything he does.”
Robinson Cano, the MVP of the WBC, returned to the New York Yankees on Thursday, and picked up their only hit in a loss to Minnesota on Thursday night. The four-time All-Star second baseman is even more important to the Yankees now that they’re missing Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, and Derek Jeter’s status is uncertain.
“I want to play the game the same way with the same intensity,” he said. “It’s a different mindset in spring training than playing in the WBC. You don’t want to overdo it. You have to go out there and play hard and prepare for the season.”
Tony Pena, the Yankees bench coach, managed the Dominican Republic to the island nation’s first international title in its third try. He stressed to his players the importance of working hard and carrying their success over into the regular season with their major league teams.
“We talked about them keeping the intensity,” Pena said. “In the WBC, they played with so much emotion. Hopefully they continue the same thing.”