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1/30/2008 11:39:00 AM

Q&A: 2K Cover Boy Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes
Photo by 2K Sports
By Paul Ulane

Jose Reyes is standing in the New York Mets clubhouse, surrounded by a half-circle of cameras and lighting equipment with a host of strangers asking him questions. No, it's not the local New York media scrum, it's a crew on hand to help the All-Star shortstop shoot a new commercial for MLB 2K8. Reyes' rare blend of skills landed him on the cover of 2K's baseball sim and between takes he talked to SI.com about being a video game cover athlete, his team's chances in 2008, and a certain left-handed pitcher that more than a few teams have been coveting this off-season.

SI: Now that you're the cover guy, are you going to get everyone on the Mets a free copy of MLB 2K8?

JR: Believe it. I have to. That's how it's supposed to be.

SI: Do you think they made you fast enough in the game?

JR: They have to. That's the way I am, so it's got to be almost real.

SI: Do you play video games with the rest of the guys on the team?

JR: Sometimes, in the clubhouse, before the game, before practice, when we get in early. We try to play the game there to try to relax a little.

SI: Did you ask them to get the "Jose" chant into the game when you play at Shea Stadium?

JR: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah. I hope they put that in there.

SI: After the disappointing way last season ended, how did you spend your off-season?

JR: After the season, I took one month off to try to relax and be with my family. I am ready right now, I can't wait to get to spring training to see what happens.

SI: You closed out the season hitting .205 last September, did you work on anything in particular over the winter?

JR: I worked on everything. I have to keep working and keep improving myself.

SI: Did you work out with any teammates?

JR: I worked out with [Mets utility outfielder] Carlos Gomez. We worked out together all the time back home in my town, Santiago, Dominican Republic. That's where my family is at.

SI: How did you feel about your name being involved in the Johan Santana trade talks?

JR: We never know what's going to happen. It's good if we get him here. He's one of the best pitchers in the game right now. So let's see what happens. [Editor's note: The Mets and Twins have agreed on a trade that will send Santana to New York provided he signs a long-term extension. Gomez is among four prospects headed to Minnesota in the deal.]

SI: Did you get a chance to talk to Mets GM Omar Minaya during the off-season?

JR: I talked to him a couple of times. He's going to be in the Dominican, I think next month, because the Caribbean Series is going to be there in Santiago. I think he's going to be there, scouting, looking to meet my family, so I can't wait.

SI: What is it like playing in a division with two other superstar shortstops like Hanley Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins?

JR: I enjoy seeing them play, because they play kind of like me, with a lot of energy. And they're kind of friends of mine. I enjoy everything they do, because they play the game the right way, they play the game hard. So I just like to see that.

SI: Do you guys ever stay in touch or trash talk with each other?

JR: With Hanley Ramirez, yeah, because he's from the Dominican. I know him from the minor leagues, so I always speak with him.

SI: Do you guys ever give each other advice?

JR: Yeah, sometimes, during slumps, you know, we just say, "Keep your head up. You know you're better than that."

SI: How do you feel about the last year of Shea Stadium?

JR: We're going to be sad. Everything I do, I do here in Shea Stadium. I have a couple of things to remind me of this stadium. But it's always exciting when you have a chance to play in a new stadium because the fans, they're going to be excited and they're going to be into it.

SI: They'll be even happier if you open up in the new stadium as World Series champions.

JR: That's the goal. That's what we're here for, to try to win the World Series. We just try to come into spring training and try to put everything together.
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