SARASOTA, Fla. - Most of the regulars had left the Ed Smith Stadium complex by the time yesterday’s intrasquad game ended and the clubhouse reopened to the media, so there wasn’t a chance to speak with third baseman Mark Reynolds until this morning.
Reynolds made two sparkling plays at third yesterday, charging a ball and throwing out speedy Xavier Avery, and diving to his left to rob Taylor Teagarden of a hit. It’s fair to point out that those gems occurred in a “meaningless” intrasquad game, but considering that Reynolds committed 26 errors at the hot corner last season, they’re worth fussing over for a few days.
“I think last year I kind of struggled coming in on the ball a little bit,” Reynolds said. “Plays like that are just reaction plays. But it is nice to get some results out of all the work I put in right away, immediately. But I’m not reading too much into that. Every day I’ll just try to be more consistent and make all the routine plays.”
Why did he struggle coming in on the ball last year?
“Just probably my agility, my first step,” he said. “I fell in love with the weight room just a little too much. This year, I just focused more on my cardio and agility and plyometrics and stuff like that, and I was able to keep the weight off, and I feel a lot lighter on my feet.”
Reynolds reported to camp at 219 pounds, compared to 241 last spring. He spent the winter working out with Brady Anderson and is noticeably thinner.
“It’s less stress on your body, your legs,” he said. “The lighter you are, the quicker you are. Mentally, I think it helps your confidence, too, to know you’re in better shape. You’re still strong, but you’re lighter and in better shape.
“I think it really showed in my 3-1 swing I took yesterday. I hit it about eight feet to third base. Lot of strength on that one.”
But seriously, folks ...
“I’m not going to read into it, though,” he said. “I’m not going to be like, ‘OK, I made two good plays. I’m good. I’m going to stop working.’ I’m still going to go out and work my (butt) off and try to be consistent and be a better player than I was last year.”
Reynolds lost about 17 pounds over the course of last season, but he didn’t lose his power, so being significantly lighter this spring isn’t a concern.
“I weighed 180 in college and still hit homers,” he said. “It’s just having the right muscles strong. I’m not worried about it.”
Reynolds will just need to focus on maintaining his current weight and not dropping another 17 pounds.
“I’ll just eat really (crappy),” he said.
But seriously, folks ...
“No, if it becomes an issue, I’ll look into it then,” he said, “but right now I’m just happy with where I’m at and I’ll keep plugging along.”
OK, now for those injury updates:
Zach Britton said his left shoulder felt good after yesterday’s bullpen session. He’ll have a light catch today, long toss Sunday and try another bullpen session on Monday.
“I feel good, surprisingly,” he said. “I thought I’d be a little sore, but I woke up and everything felt normal, which is good.”
Jason Berken (hamstring) will play catch again today as he nears a return to the mound.
“Yesterday was the best I’ve felt so far,” he said. “It’s a day-to-day thing at this point. I got to 90 feet yesterday, so at this rate it won’t be much longer until I’m able to get on the mound.”
Nick Markakis (abdomen) continues to take batting practice, and his swings are more aggressive than earlier in camp.
Brian Roberts (concussion) has a good look on his face. Yes, that also counts for something. He’s more visible in the clubhouse now, interacting and joking with teammates. He continues to take ground balls on the field and batting practice in the covered batting cage.
Still no sign of catcher Ronny Paulino, though the Orioles have been in contact with him.
They knew it would be a challenge to get him here on time after he signed late. Also, he tested positive for a banned substance while playing for the Marlins and received a 50-game suspension on Aug. 20, 2010 (Paulino claimed the positive test was a result of a dietary pill), which has presented another hurdle in obtaining his visa.