In my recent interview with Mark Reynolds, we spent time on many topics, to include all his homers and all his strikeouts, but we also took time to visit on other aspects of his play and career as well.
For instance, did you know that Reynolds is still somewhat a newcomer to third base? In college, at the University of Virginia, he was a shortstop before a guy named Ryan Zimmerman showed up a year after him.
The head coach needed to move one of them off short. Reynolds felt that since he was the incumbent, he should stay put. Zimmerman was sent to third instead of him.
But he would wind up there a few years later.
“I got thrown into the fire right in the big leagues, playing third,” Reynolds said. “I was a shortstop in college and played short and second coming up. Prior to 2007, (the Diamondbacks) told me I would go to Double-A and play third every day. I go to Double-A that year, played about 20-some games at third base and got called up to the big leagues. My first big league start was with Brandon Webb on the mound.
“I think I have improved each year, been working hard. I had a couple of rough years on defense. Matt Williams kind of took me under his wing and taught me a lot, along with Jay Bell. I think I’ve improved every year and last year was one of my better years on defense. Keep working hard and keep improving.”
If Reynolds wants to talk with someone that also moved from short to third, he could spend some time with Cal Ripken Jr.
Ripken is a fan of Reynolds and the two have talked a few times, the new O’s third sacker said. They first spoke when Cal and Bill Ripken attended an event on the Virginia campus.
Ripken recently talked about Reynolds’ strikeouts and basically said if Reynolds spent too much time trying to cut down on his swing, it could cost him some home run power.
“I have talked to Cal about that. He told me to stay aggressive, you are who you are. Obviously, you want to cut down on the strikeouts, but (he said) you also have a special ability to hit the ball a long way and drive in runs and hit home runs,” Reynolds said.
“He encouraged me to try and get better, but at the same time, keep aggressive and play hard. Those words, from a Hall of Famer, stuck with me. Cal was one of my favorite players growing up. Maybe, I can get to know him better now, being in Baltimore. I’d like to talk with him more and pick his brain a little bit.”
Reynolds, who was born in Virginia Beach, Va., looks forward to a return to the East Coast after his four seasons with the Diamondbacks.
He also looks forward to the challenge of playing in baseball’s best division.
“I think it will be great to play on a big stage, night in and night out. Nothing against the NL West, but there are more storied traditions and a lot more of a fan base and TV coverage in the east, especially the AL East,” Reynolds added.
Reynolds now is getting set for life in the American League. He expects it to be an adjustment, but also knows the American League pitchers won’t know him too well either.
He is spending some time checking out American League pitchers on his computer.
“I’ve got some programs on my computer where I can look at pitchers, what they throw and their velocities and kind of get acclimated with their various pitches,” he said. “You can’t detail it out to the point of what they may throw on every count, that’s more of a reaction thing. But I want to see what they’ve got. I am definitely going to be prepared as well as I can. I want to know speeds and arm angle, stuff like that.”