Keeping focus not an issue for Reed
Defense-first outfielder working hard to keep spot on Mets
CINCINNATI -- It should be noted that here in the visiting clubhouse at Great American Ball Park, Jeremy Reed has been assigned the locker closest to the door. He expected as much. Perhaps no person in the Mets' Spring Training camp felt less secure about a place on the Opening Day roster than Reed.
Even after the Mets eliminated the competition by reassigning Bobby Kielty to Minor League camp and sending Cory Sullivan to Triple-A Buffalo, Reed was unsure. Not even the team charter flight from Florida to New York on Thursday, an indication that he had survived the final cut, could convince him. And then the Mets signed Gary Sheffield.
After the Mets' game against the Red Sox at Citi Field on Friday night, Reed allowed thoughts to enter his head that he had made the flight for no reason.
"I still have options," Reed said.
Now, it must be noted that the door next to Reed's locker leads to the field. If anything, the addition of Sheffield has underscored the Mets' need for a defensive outfielder. If, as the club has suggested, Sheffield will play right field with some regularity, the No. 4 outfielder -- No. 5 if Fernando Tatis is considered the fourth -- will play with some regularity, too.
Chances are neither Sheffield nor left fielder Daniel Murphy will see many ninth innings -- not with the Mets leading, anyway -- and perhaps not too many eighth innings. Manager Jerry Manuel already has indicated he may be inclined to get his best defense on the field in the eighth, even if it means Murphy, Sheffield or both are denied opportunities to bat.
"No one's said what I'll be doing, but I think I'll be playing more left than right," Reed said, hours before the slightly delayed beginning of the Mets' Opening Day game against the Reds.
Reed's reasoning is sound. If Sheffield is in the starting lineup, Ryan Church probably won't be, so Church would be available to replace Sheffield in right late in games. Reed would be the understudy for Murphy. Chances are good that Reed's appearances in right will be limited to situations in which Church is unavailable and Sheffield is the right fielder. But Reed may get the second-most innings behind Murphy in left field. The Mets prefer not to make a point about Murphy's defense, but they acknowledge it is compromised. Murphy had trouble in the left-field corner of Citi Field on Friday night and later admitted the lights had nothing to do with his misjudgment.
Reed is an above-average defender. His first step is rarely seen.
"He gets great jumps," said Sean Green, who played with Reed with the Mariners. "People in New York will like watching him. He makes plays. He's a closer."
Reed had adjustments to make. There is no "book" on Citi Field -- he may help write it -- and he has played the outfield in only six National League cities: San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York, at Shea. And that experience at Shea is of little use now.
"I'm looking forward to playing in all of them in this league," Reed said. "I hope I get the chance."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.