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Mets’ Reyes Bunts for Hit, Exits Cincinnati Game With Batting Title Lead

By Erik Matuszewski
September 28, 2011 4:29 PM EDT

Jose Reyes of the New York Mets extended his lead in the chase for the National League batting title with a first-inning bunt single and then was taken out of today’s regular-season finale.

Reyes, the Mets’ shortstop, boosted his batting average to .337 with his hit in a 3-0 win against the Cincinnati Reds. Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers has a .335 average.

The crowd at New York’s Citi Field booed when Reyes didn’t return to the game after the first inning. Reyes said he told Mets manager Terry Collins that he wanted to come out of the game if he got a hit in his first at-bat. The Mets have never had a batting champion.

“I understand and heard some comments in the stands and don’t blame them,” Collins said during a news conference. “They pay a lot of money to come to the games. You’ve got to understand, I ask these players to do a lot.”

The Brewers, who won the NL Central Division title, are scheduled to play their final game of the regular season tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Braun, 27, would have to collect at least three hits to pass Reyes, 28, for the batting title. Even if Braun got hits in his first two at-bats tonight, he’d be .00016 behind Reyes.

“I’m going to watch the game for sure to see what’s going on,” Reyes, who now becomes a free agent, told reporters. “That’s not easy to win a batting title.”

John Olerud’s .354 batting average in 1998 was the best in Mets’ history, according to Baseball-Reference.com. He finished second in the batting title race that year to the Colorado Rockies’ Larry Walker, who hit .363.

Reyes declined to negotiate a new deal during the season, saying he didn’t want any distractions, and said he was aware today may have been his final game with the Mets. He was in the option season of a four-year, $23.25 million contract.

“It’s in my mind because I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Reyes said. “But there’s a long way to go. I’ve always said I want to come back here.”

Whether the Mets can afford to re-sign Reyes might depend on their own financial health. Earlier this month the team ended discussions to sell a 33 percent share of the franchise to hedge-fund manager David Einhorn for $200 million in an attempt to defray costs from a lawsuit filed by the trustee representing investors who lost money in the Ponzi scheme run by Bernard L. Madoff.

Reyes finishes the season with a .337 average, seven home runs, 44 runs batted in, 101 runs and 39 stolen bases. He also had 16 triples, tied with Philadelphia’s Shane Victorino for the major league lead, and said he’ll be happy with his season no matter what Braun does tonight.

“It is what it is,” Reyes said. “If he wins it, he earned it.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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