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Play, durability of Reyes a bright spot for Marlins

Play, durability of Reyes a bright spot for Marlins

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Play, durability of Reyes a bright spot for Marlins
MIAMI -- No matter how rough the season was for the Miami Marlins, Jose Reyes remained a constant with his effort and energy. Mentally, the 29-year-old shortstop came to play every day.

With so much going wrong around him, Reyes refused to find excuses to leave the lineup. He certainly could have, especially down the stretch when there was nothing on the line for a club that finished 69-93. It would have been understandable if the veteran claimed he was sore and needed a few days off. But that never happened.

"One thing I feel very happy about is I didn't go to the DL one time this year," Reyes said. "I played over 150 games. That's something I didn't do the last four years. That's something I feel very happy about. I'm proud about that."

Speed is so much a part of his game, and over the course of the season, Reyes' hamstrings and legs got sore. When that happened, he didn't complain. He just kept playing.

Regularly, you would see Reyes standing at shortstop, stretching his legs between pitches.

"When you use your speed a lot, sometimes you're going to feel tight and stuff like that," Reyes conceded. "But nothing major. Nothing to take me out."

One objective Reyes had in his first year with the Marlins was to make up for lost time on the field. He regularly told manager Ozzie Guillen that he wanted to play because he missed so many games in the past.

Reyes appeared in 160 games, a milestone he last reached in 2007 when he was with the Mets. Only 14 players in Major League Baseball this season played in 160 or more games, with four seeing action in all 162 games.

From a health standpoint, 2012 was a success for the Marlins shortstop. In his 2011 National League batting title season with the Mets, Reyes was slowed by nagging hamstring problems that limited him to 126 games.

In 2010, a thyroid imbalance medical issue landed him on the disabled list, and resulted in Reyes taking part in 133 games.

From a physical standpoint, 2009 was the beginning of Reyes' struggles to stay on the field. A right calf injury kept him out of all but 36 games.

Early in his career with the Mets, Reyes was pretty durable. He had a four year span -- 2005-08 -- in which he appeared in no fewer than 153 games. And in '05, he played in a career-high 161 games.

When Reyes signed his six-year, $106 million contract with the Marlins, many wondered if the flashy shortstop could hold up.

He did.

What Reyes is disappointed about, personally, is his production. It was up and down. After a slow start, Reyes did salvage a solid season, batting .287 with a .347 on-base percentage and 40 stolen bases.

"Number-wise, I think I can do better," said Reyes, who won the NL batting title with a .337 average in 2011. "I think in the beginning I tried to do too much. That happens."

But Reyes did make strides after the All-Star break, hitting .312. He struggled at .264 in the first three months.

"At least, the second half of the season, I feel like I was the Jose Reyes the Marlins signed," Reyes said. "Next year, for sure, it's going to be better production from me. I believe that. Next year, it's going to be better for me."

As the Marlins look to restructure, they plan to build around Reyes and slugger Giancarlo Stanton.

Reyes said the team has to learn from 2012 and turn the page to '13.

"When we got to Spring Training, nobody thought we would finish in last place," he said. "That's why it is a disappointing year. With the talent we have here, we feel like we didn't do anything this year.

"You have to put it in the past, and try to go to the offseason getting ready for Spring Training. When you get to Spring Training, you have to figure it out and try to play better baseball. We only had like one good month. That's tough to do. If we want to be better and compete, we need to be more consistent and play better baseball than we played this year."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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