PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The sight of Jose Reyes clutching at his right hamstring as he pulled up near third base Sunday was a sobering one for the Mets, but not unfamiliar.
Reyes, only 20 years old, already has a history of leg ailments, and he added another chapter when he left Sunday's game in the first inning with what was diagnosed as a mid-hamstring strain, the same injury that cost him three weeks at Triple-A Norfolk last season.
The Mets refused to estimate how long Reyes might be sidelined, but given the delicate nature of hamstring injuries -- and with Opening Day only three weeks away -- it is possible Reyes might be at risk for the start of the season.
Reyes was examined by team physician Andrew Rokito, and general manager Jim Duquette said it was too early to know how long Reyes will be out, adding that the club will have a better idea in the next 24 to 48 hours.
"It's hard to characterize our concern right now," Duquette said. "Any injury like this to Jose is disconcerting, but it's spring training. Obviously it would be worse if it was during the season."
Duquette has repeated that refrain a number of times lately, whether the subject involved the bone spur in Mike Cameron's big toe, Cliff Floyd's surgically repaired ankle or Kazuo Matsui's stitched-up middle finger. Here in sunny Florida, the Mets have been prepping under a dark cloud with various maladies, but Reyes' injury is the most ominous because of his medical history.
Reyes' recent string of problems began in November 2002 when he suffered a strain of his right quadriceps muscle while playing in the Dominican Winter League. After the Mets nursed him through spring training last year, Reyes followed that with a right hamstring strain at Norfolk that continued to haunt him after his June 10 promotion to the Mets.
Reyes' brilliant rookie season ended Aug. 31 when he suffered a Grade 2 sprain (Grade 3 is the worst) of his left ankle while sliding to break up a double play.
Reyes, who focused on strengthening his lower body during the offseason, is still receiving treatment for the ankle; he has it wrapped daily. Even before Sunday's injury, it was not unusual for him to have his right hamstring iced after workouts as well.
"I worked hard over the winter," Reyes said. "Before the game, I felt ready. I felt good."
Even more frustrating was that Sunday's injury came with some degree of warning. After drawing a walk in the first inning, Reyes stole second. He later said he felt a slight twinge in the hamstring as he dived headfirst into the base.
"I wish he would have taken himself out then," manager Art Howe said. "That's another learning experience for him. If it does recur, hopefully he'll get himself out sooner."
Instead, Reyes learned the hard way. Floyd ripped a single to right, and Reyes abruptly slowed between second and third, hobbling into the base as he grabbed at the back of his right leg.
After talking with Howe and assistant trainer Mike Herbst at third, Reyes showed a slight limp as he headed to the dugout. "It was encouraging that he walked out under his own power," Duquette said.
The GM was trying to put the best spin on what could be a devastating injury to one of the team's rising young players. Reyes was moved from shortstop to second base to accommodate the signing of Matsui, but the two have yet to play together in an exhibition game. If Reyes misses the April 6 season opener in Atlanta, Joe McEwing will likely start at second.
Matsui suffered a lacerated right middle finger Feb. 29, two days before the Grapefruit League opener, and has been limited to DH duties in six games. The Mets anticipated that Matsui would make his debut at shortstop Monday against the Dodgers in Vero Beach. But when asked how he was feeling after Sunday's game, Matsui said "60 percent." He did not indicate he was ready to become a full- time player just yet.
"We were anxiously awaiting them playing together," Duquette said.
Dancing around the subject...no real date.
But it's the Mets, bad luck follows always
Look at stuff that's happened in Spring Training already-
Reyes Hurt (?), Matsui lacerated finger (minor), Cameron Bone Spur in big toe (says he will play through it, but takes awhile to get healed up after removed), Pizza fight with Karim Garcia and Shane Spencer, Piazza is a little banged up.
All that's left is some pitchers arms to go out