From Newsday’s Bob Herzog, speaking with Mets manager Willie Randolph about New York’s shortstop / leadoff hitter, Jose Reyes.

“I don’t expect him to be Rickey Henderson,” Randolph said, invoking the name of baseball’s all-time best leadoff batter, who had a remarkable .401 career on-base percentage and walked 2,190 times. “He’s learning as he goes. He’s getting better. I’m not looking for anything in particular. It’s not any kind of trial or test. Obviously, I want him to score runs and get on base a lot more, but that’s a very, very difficult job for a young player. I understand that. That’s why I don’t go crazy over it.”

So Randolph refuses to fret about Reyes’ paltry .290 on-base percentage and meager total of eight walks in 279 plate appearances, looking instead at Reyes’ age.

“If you’re going to win games, that’s a big responsibility for anybody, but for a guy who turned 22 , that’s a lot to put on his plate,” Randolph said. “He’s not going to be where I want him to be now. If I’m here a couple of years, maybe then, but maybe not even that. You work with it, you teach him, you talk to him about what you might want him to do in certain situations and you hope he grasps it.”

So Randolph, with only Mike Cameron as a viable leadoff option, tolerates Reyes’ imperfections and is candid about them.

Presumably, neither Herzog nor Randolph consider the embattled Kaz Matsui to be a viable leadoff option. Former Yankee hitting coach Rick Down currently holds that position with the Mets, and it would be interesting to know, what if any guidance he’s been able to offer Reyes, particularly if the youngster’s lack of expertise is so openly acknowledged.