Since the Orioles acquired third baseman Mark Reynolds more than a month ago, fans have gotten excited about his home run potential.
But others have expressed concern about his league-leading strikeout totals, as well.
Reynolds doesn't shy away from the topic of his strikeout total of 638 over the last three seasons. He led the NL in strikeouts all three years and would like to cut down on the whiffs when he joins the O's lineup in 2011.
"Growing up and in college, I'd never been a (big) strikeout guy. Early on it looked like something I'd grow out of, but it's kind of becoming a trend now," Reynolds said by phone Thursday from his home in Arizona. "I have to take a step back and look at my swing and kind of figure maybe something different out. Maybe I can recognize pitches a little longer or get my timing better.
"But I am not going to change my swing to where I'm punching singles to right field. I'm going to try to maybe shorten up just a little bit when behind in the count. I know strikeouts are a part of my game, but 200 is kind of embarrassing and way too many. I'm working this offseason pretty hard on my swing and hitting more than I regularly would do."
While he was fourth in the NL in homers in 2009 and sixth last year, he was first in the league the last three years in strikeouts.
But Reynolds realizes there may be a balancing act in trying to cut down the Ks while also maintaining his power and aggressiveness at bat.
"It is a fine line and you have to know where to draw that line. I'm not changing my approach and I'll still have power to drive the ball and hit the ball in the gaps. What I am talking about is maybe tinkering with my swing and timing a lit bit," said Reynolds, who will attend FanFest on Jan. 29. "If I could strike out 25 or 30 less times a year and put more balls in play, I could have a chance at a better average, more RBIs and home runs. It's not going to be something drastic or dramatic. Just little things that may not be noticeable to the fans."
In case anyone thinks all the strikeouts were the reason Reynolds hit just .198 last year when he fanned 211 times, he hit .260 the year before when he fanned 223 times.
I have mentioned before that just because he is an Oriole now doesn't mean all the sudden the K total will decrease. The coaches in Arizona tried to help in that regard over the last four years.
"They have tried to get me to shorten up, but at the same time wanted me to be productive with driving in runs. It's a balancing act between not striking out and being a dangerous hitter with home runs. That line is there and maybe I've been a little too much on the power side of that line lately and need to try to move a little closer to the middle. I'm working hard at it," Reynolds said.
My take is simply this: If Reynolds can average 38 homers like he has over the last two years, I'm OK with all the strikeouts. I would be wary of any adjustments that impact his potential game-changing power.
No less an authority than Cal Ripken Jr. seems to feel the same.
I know some fans will feel something good can come when you put the ball in play over, say, a strikeout. But a player also has to know what he can and can't do.
Reynolds has worked on his hitting and conditioning with former Oriole Brady Anderson and the two are scheduled to work together again this weekend in Arizona.
Reynolds sure seems like a player that wants to improve his game, thus the work with Brady. That's admirable. As I said, as long as those homers keep coming......
Coming soon: I'll have much more from a wide-ranging interview over the next several days with the O's new third sacker. We'll get Reynolds' take on his defense at third, his previous conversations with Ripken and what he is doing to learn more about playing in the AL.