During Jose Reyes' nine-year career with the Mets, he made four All-Star teams, was a National League batting champion and completely dictated just how the club's offense operated when healthy.
He also seemed a perfect fit in New York, but that union came to an expensive end this offseason.
Now a member of the new-look Miami Marlins, Reyes returns to Citi Field this evening as his new club begins a three-game series with the Mets.
It didn't take long for Reyes to establish himself as an outstanding hitter and fielder with the Mets after he was signed as an amateur free agent in August of 1999. Over his nine seasons with the Mets, the shortstop hit .292 and scored 735 runs while stealing 370 bases in 1,050 games. He led the NL with a .337 average in 2011, but struggled with injury over his last few seasons with the Mets as well.
Though New York was having financial issues this past offseason due to ownership involvement in the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme, there was always the thought that the Mets may be able to retain his services, especially after they decided against dealing him before the 2011 trade deadline.
Reyes, though, turned in his New York state of mind for the beaches of Miami in early December, signing a six-year, $106 million deal. He also added at the time of the signing that the Mets weren't really in the mix to sign him.
"It was time to move on," said Reyes. "The Mets didn't want me there. They never made a real offer."
That fact could lead to a mixed reaction for him tonight at Citi Field. Though it always stings when a franchise player leaves as a free agent, the blame may not totally be on Reyes.
"You never know, to be honest with you," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen told his team's website. "I think ... every day [he wore] the Mets uniform, he did everything he could to win games. The Met fans should be proud he played the way he played for them. I think people should go out there and support him. Hopefully that happens."
Reyes, whom the Mets will honor with a video tribute tonight, has gotten off to a slow start with his new team, hitting .230 with six runs scored, two RBI and four steals through 15 games. He did have a pair of doubles in Saturday's loss to Washington, Miami's second in a row following a four-game win streak.
Reyes and the rest of the Marlins got an extra day to clear their heads as Sunday's finale was postponed due to poor weather.
While Reyes makes his return to New York, Omar Infante could also find his way back into the Miami lineup after sitting out the past four games due to a sore left groin.
Miami starter Josh Johnson also hopes to benefit from a few extra days of rest. Scheduled to start Sunday's finale, Johnson instead goes tonight looking for his first win of the season.
After missing all but nine games in 2011 due to a right shoulder injury, the right-hander struggled over his first two starts, giving up nine runs and 21 hits in a pair of losses. He then got a no-decision against the Cubs on Tuesday with a solid effort, allowing two runs on seven hits and three walks over seven frames of his team's 5-2 win.
Johnson, 28, has outstanding career numbers versus the Mets, going 8-1 with a 2.68 earned run average in 14 starts.
New York starter Johan Santana is also looking for his first win since returning from injury and is coming off the shortest outing of his career. The left-hander gave up only one run over his first two starts, but fell to 0-2 on the season after lasting just four outs and 55 pitches in a loss to Atlanta on Tuesday.
Santana was charged with six runs -- four earned -- on four hits and a walk.
"[New York manager Terry Collins] told me there were too many pitches in that inning and he didn't want to take any risks," said Santana, who missed all of last season due to surgery on his throwing shoulder.
The 33-year-old, who was scheduled to pitch on Sunday against the Giants before rain led to a cancellation and Monday's doubleheader, is 6-1 with a 1.47 ERA in nine career starts versus the Marlins.
With Santana given an extra day of rest, Dillon Gee and Miguel Batista got the starts in yesterday's twin bill. Neither faired well as Batista lasted only 3 2/3 innings and gave up six runs -- three earned -- in a 6-1 loss in the first game before Gee was tagged for seven runs and 12 hits over 6 2/3 frames to drop the nightcap, 7-2.
"It was a miserable day. It's very disappointing," said Mets outfielder Jason Bay, who bruised his ribs in Game 2 and might not play tonight.
New York has lost six of its past eight overall.
The Mets and Marlins split 18 meetings last season.