When Mark Reynolds was signed in the offseason by the Colorado Rockies, most expected the veteran infielder to be an asset at the plate. Few, however, realized the defensive stability he would bring to the Colorado infield at first base.
“We’ve seen the defense. He’s been a plus defender for us,” said Colorado manager Walt Weiss. “He’s got a good feel for how to play the game and when to do the things that he does. I didn’t know that about him before the season, to be honest with you, especially the defense. I just hadn’t seen him enough I guess. He’s a very good defender.”
It’s a far cry from 2011 when Reynolds was struggling at third base for the Baltimore Orioles. With his troubles, the team moved him to the other side of the diamond and it paid off for them and Reynolds.
“I’ve always been able to catch it. My problems at third base were throwing problems,” Reynolds said. “Moving me over in 2011 in Baltimore settled me down a little bit and let me concentrate on first base, then you work as hard as you can over there to get better. I’ve had five or six years to get pretty accustomed to it so it’s all come together.”
It’s come together nicely for the Rockies, who have seen Reynolds excel at first base and add another defensive piece to an already stellar infield that includes Gold Glove winners Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu and a rookie shortstop that Reynolds thinks will have his own hardware soon.
“(Trevor) Story’s going to win a gold glove some day and DJ and Nolan already have them,” Reynolds said. “Something I take pride in is helping them out from getting stupid errors on a low throw or something like that,” Reynolds said. “I take pride in that kind of stuff. When I was a third baseman, I’d love it when a first baseman would pick one of my throws. I’ve been on the other side so I try to help them out as much as I can.”
Arenado has been impressed with what he’s seen from Reynolds.
“I always knew he could handle the glove. I didn’t realize how really good he was until we had him over there but he’s done an unbelievable job,” Arenado said. “I’ve had some pretty good first basemen here with Todd (Helton) and Morny (Justin Morneau) and he’s up there with them. He’s made some plays and big-time scoops that help our team win. He’s been a big asset.”
More from Colorado Rockies News
- A Colorado Rockies Thanksgiving
- Colorado Rockies: Charlie Blackmon out for the season
- Colorado Rockies: Injuries shift look of roster ahead of Dodgers series
- Colorado Rockies: 3 things we appreciated from Tuesday in San Francisco
- What Bill Schmidt’s comments mean for the Colorado Rockies in 2023
Reynolds showed his versatility again on Friday night in the ninth inning of Colorado’s win over San Francisco, stretching off the bag to grab an errant throw from reliever Miguel Castro to keep a Giants rally at bay.
“That’s just a reaction. You can’t practice that,” Reynolds smiled. “I was expecting (Castro) to throw me a 98 mile-an-hour sinker and we threw me a lawn dart that was totally offline. It’s just something you react to. You can’t really practice it. It’s just something that happens.”
But Reynolds isn’t just getting it done in the field. The 32-year-old entered Sunday hitting .317, the best average among first basemen in the National League, and has logged a .429 average with runners in scoring position. He also collected with 1,000th career hit during Colorado’s series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Once known primarily for his slugging, Reynolds has shown this season he can make a difference even when the ball doesn’t leave the park.
“He brings some savvy at the plate,” Weiss said. “Even with his at-bats in the situation when the game is telling him to hit the ball to the big part of the field, he’s shot the ball the other way.”
It’s been a season of the unexpected for Reynolds, who says the one thing he has learned at first base is to expect the unexpected.
“You can never be comfortable because every infielder has a different movement on their ball,” Reynolds said. “It’s sinkers or cutters or who knows what. J.J. Hardy (who played with Reynolds in Baltimore), his ball would always be really low but it would never go in the dirt. It would just stay right there. You just have to concentrate and catch it in the wrist. You have to know your infielders, how they like to throw, and their arm angles and be expecting whatever they throw at you.”
Whatever it is, Mark Reynolds has proven this season he’s ready for it.