- Last Updated: 2:57 PM, February 16, 2013
- Posted: 12:41 AM, February 16, 2013
DUNEDIN, Fla. — Playing in the same division as the Yankees will bring out the best in Jose Reyes’ and yesterday the former Mets shortstop put those Yankees on notice.
“We’re here to win the division,’’ Reyes told The Post, his first day on the field with his new Blue Jays teammates, a team favored by many to win the AL East. “We don’t think about the wild card. We are here to win the division. That’s our goal.’’
Yankees, here we come.
Reyes, 29, has the utmost respect for his former Subway Series rivals and fellow shortstop Derek Jeter, but he is going to try his best to knock the aging Bronx Bombers off their perch in the AL East. The Blue Jays haven’t finished first in the division since 1993, when they went on to win the World Series for the second straight season.
There is much work to be done. On paper the rebuilt Blue Jays look to be a beast, having added Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. After last year’s collapse in Miami, though, Reyes knows better than anyone that games must be won on the field. Getting the rivalry going with the Yankees will give the Blue Jays and Reyes an added boost.
“When I was there in New York and we played the Subway Series, that was so exciting to play the Yankees,’’ Reyes said. “And now I’m going to play against that team in the same division so many times that’s going to be even more exciting. Every time you play against the Yankees, it feels like you are playing in the playoffs. I like that. I think playing against the Yankees will bring out the best in me.’’
Reyes has all the respect in the world for that Hall of Fame shortstop in pinstripes.
“Jeter is the guy who I admire,’’ Reyes said. “I love the way Jeter plays the game and approaches the game. It’s going to be fun to see Jeter so many times this year and try to learn something from him.’’
Make no mistake, Reyes said it’s going to be fun to try to beat him as well.
Reyes is looking to change his luck after hard times with the Mets and then the disaster in Miami, where he signed with the Marlins as a free agent before last season for six years, $106 million, thinking he was going to be in South Beach for a long, long time.
The joke was on Reyes as the Marlins finished last and pulled the rug out from under him, dealing him to the Blue Jays on Nov. 19 as the Marlins dumped salaries once again. Reyes said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria assured him he was not going to be traded, just days before he was dealt away.
“Two days before the trade, I was having dinner with him in New York,’’ Reyes said. At that dinner Loria went so far as to tell Reyes to buy a house in Miami.
“He was talking still about getting a nice house in Miami,’’ Reyes said. “That was kind of crazy. How do you want me to spend my money in Miami when I have my house in New York and you are going to trade me in two days?
“Then I went on vacation with my wife and I found out I was traded. I thought people were joking but when I called my agent he said, yes, I was traded. ... I was shocked because Jeffrey Loria, he always told me he’s never going to trade me.’’
Reyes said he doesn’t want to have anything to do with Loria or the Marlins now. He is moving forward as a Blue Jay.
“For the first couple of weeks I still couldn’t believe what was going on,’’ Reyes said of the trade. “But now that I’m here I can’t wait to get going. It’s going to be an exciting year for me, the team, the whole organization.’’
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