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Reyes relishing hot start to spring

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The calendar has only recently been turned to March, but already Jose Reyes appears as though he's in mid-season form.

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Reyes has been one of the Blue Jays' most impressive hitters at the plate this spring. He is hitting .643 (9-for-14) with a home run, three RBIs, a stolen base and four runs scored in five games.

The production from Reyes couldn't have come at a better time for the Dominican Republic. Reyes is set to leave Toronto's Spring Training complex on Sunday to join his national team for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

"Not that quickly," Reyes said when asked if he's usually a fast starter at the plate during camp. "But this year [my swing] has been ready. But I've been working hard to try to put my swing together as soon as possible because I know I have to go to the WBC."

Reyes is expected to start at shortstop and lead off for the Dominicans just like he would in Toronto. His team is set to begin the tournament in Puerto Rico with the first game on March 7 against Venezuela.

The 29-year-old Reyes will be joined by a slew of Blue Jays including Edwin Encarnacion, Moises Sierra and Ricardo Nanita. Right-hander Esmil Rogers and Melky Cabrera originally were expected to participate as well, but recently withdrew while Jose Bautista did not receive permission to play from the Blue Jays because of last year's wrist injury.

It should prove to be an electric atmosphere in Puerto Rico as plenty of Dominicans live in the area or will make the relatively short trip to watch their stars play on the international stage. It's the type of environment that Reyes says he thrives under.

"I like that, I like the energy," Reyes said. "I'm the kind of guy who plays better when I have a lot of people in the ballpark. I like the energy and the atmosphere.

"I'm feeling good at home plate right now. I'm seeing the ball good, good timing for me because we're going to the WBC, we're going to start playing in a couple of days, but I feel ready."

The other Blue Jays set to appear in the Classic include R.A. Dickey, J.P. Arencibia for the United States and Brett Lawrie, Adam Loewen and Trystan Magnuson for Team Canada.

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