It took awhile for the Orioles to get started, but Monday finally brought news that Baltimore made a move with the Arizona Diamondbacks-bringing in third baseman Mark Reynolds in exchange for Orioles pitchers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio.
Reynolds, 27, will likely supplant Josh Bell as the team’s Opening Day third baseman and brings a solid combination of power(121 HRs in 3+ seasons) and some speed on the base-paths( 24 SB in 2009).
The trade will likely be a work in progress for both sides, as both the Orioles and Reynolds are in the works of trying to rebound from disappointing seasons and personal slumps.
Reynolds joined Rex Snider on “The Afternoon Drive” in a WNST exclusive to discuss the trade, and the being a Virginia Beach native discussed coming back home to the Chesapeake Bay area.
“I have a lot of family there,” Reynolds told Snider. “My parents are still there, along with my aunts and uncles, cousins…a lot of family there. I get back there-usually around the holidays-because I live in Arizona now.”
Ultimately playing in front of his family is going to be worth the move to the East Coast to suit up in the orange and black.
“It’s gonna be great playing close to home. I get to see some family and friends on an off-day. It’s a positive experience and I’m looking forward to it.”
Reynolds, a fifth-year veteran out of the University of Virginia, can play both first base and third base for his new ball club. In his career, he has a total of 121 career home runs, 346 RBIs, and a career batting average of .242.
Reynolds’ best season came in 2009 when he hit .260, had an OBP of .349 and a OPS of .892. He hit 44 HRs-good for 4th best in the NL-and 102 RBIs on top of stealing 24 bases.
The Orioles certainly would hope to have that version of Reynolds as opposed to his 2010, where he fought through numerous injuries and batted .198 while striking out a league-high 211 times.
His lack of production at the plate also affected his base-stealing skills, as his stolen base production dipped from 24 in 2009 to just seven last year.
Reynolds admitted that he hates making excuses for his slump, but the injuries a year ago were a lot to handle based on his abilities, and his injuries ranged from his quad, his thumb, and to cap it all off, he ended up being hit in the head by a 95-MPH fastball while at the plate facing Nationals pitcher Collin Balester back in August.
“I had never been hurt in my career,” Reynolds said. “Then, on the last day of spring training, I hurt my quad and that hindered me from stealing bases, which is a major part of my game. I wasn’t really comfortable playing defense, or pushing off of my back leg.”
Reynolds said he never felt the same after that and felt out of his element. And the worst part about it all? He didn’t feel comfortable sitting out of games with the injury either.
“I’m stubborn,” Reynolds admitted. “I’ll play through anything. I hate missing games, so that season got off to a slow start.”
Ultimately the injuries continued to be a slippery slope for the fourth-year veteran.
“It was very frustrating,” Reynolds told Snider. “Obviously, I don’t picture myself as a sub-.200 by any means. And I don’t expect that to happen ever again. One thing after another this past year, and it resulted in a down year.”
He vows never to have that bad of a season again-especially now that he has a fresh start in Baltimore. He learned a lot through the adversity he suffered through the past year. And he still believes that he has the skills to contribute to the Orioles and that his overall baseball skills haven’t fallen off the table.
“But my power numbers were still there, still drove in some runs, and was still able to get on base pretty quick. This past year, I learned a lot about how to deal with injuries and how to take a day or two if I need it, instead of struggling to play through it.”
The Orioles will retain his services for at least two more seasons before a club option is available.
In a sense, this is a great trade for the Orioles. They got a power-hitting third baseman who had one off-year for cheap, and they did not have to give up any of the hot pitching prospects in the organization.
The Diamondbacks were high on starting pitcher Chris Tillman, but instead the Orioles were able to work out the deal for Reynolds instead with Hernandez-a pitcher who excelled after moving to the bullpen-and the other pitcher that came over in the Erik Bedard trade to the Seattle-Kam Mickolio.
Not giving up Tillman in that deal could mean that they could then package him in another move toward another corner infielder.
Reynolds said that now his job is getting to know his teammates, preparing himself for spring training, and learning to respect a manager in Buck Showalter, who used to manage his original ballclub before he became a member of the team, that he doesn’t know too much about just yet.
“I actually just got off the phone with him a little bit ago,” Reynolds said. “And he was welcoming me to the team. He sounded like a good guy to play for. I’m just going to go in it with a positive attitude…[and] hoping to get some wins and help turn this team around.”
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