Scottsdale, Ariz. -- When the Colorado Rockies signed free agent Mark Reynolds to a one-year deal this winter, the prevailing thoughts on the acquisition ranged from having the veteran as a platoon option to making him the primary power-hitting option at first base. And, of course, dingers. Lots of dingers.
But if there are preset roles and balances between the 32-year-old and lefty-swinging first baseman Ben Paulsen, nobody has told Reynolds. In fact, he signed with the Rockies in large part because there weren't going to be preset roles, and the power hitter expects to log time in the outfield in addition to first base.
"They basically told me whoever is swinging the hot bat is going to play, and it’s really all you can ask for, you know?" Reynolds told Purple Row from the Rockies' Scottsdale clubhouse during spring training. "That’s the main reason why I’m excited. But a lot of factors went into [choosing the Rockies]. The ballpark, the altitude, being what kind of player I am and the chance for some playing time, a lot of playing time."
That Reynolds recognizes the type of player he is, the type of ballpark Coors Field can be, and, well, the combination of those two factors is a welcome and refreshing admission. But the veteran has also been around long enough to know that can't play explicitly into his time in Denver, either.
"Playing here, playing wherever, none of that really matters, and I don’t think it’s going to change my approach at all," Reynolds said. "I’m still going to be the player I am and try to drive in runs, and I’m not going to change who I am just because of the ballpark."
Coming now to his seventh organization in ten Major League seasons, Reynolds has more or less seen it all over his 1,258 big league games—and yet, he still likes what he sees from manager Walt Weiss and the Rockies' clubhouse.
"There are a lot of good young players on this team, and they need some old guys in here to bring them along, and show them the way," Reynolds said. "I think Walt is running a good camp, and we are getting a lot of work in. There's not a lot of standing around, which is great, and I think we’ll be ready."
The admiration between the veteran and manager is mutual, too.
"Mark is a pretty easy going guy, you can tell he’s been in the game for a long time, he’s got a great feel for things, and he's easy to get along with," Weiss told Purple Row. "You can always sense a level of wisdom and professionalism with those types of guys."
Part of the wisdom for Reynolds at this stage of spring training is understanding he doesn't need to prove himself to make the team by Opening Day. In Denver on a one-year, $2.6 million contract, the Virginia Beach native is all but a lock to make the team assuming he remains healthy, and that's informed how he goes about his business early in March.
"I’m a little bit older now so it’s just a matter of me getting healthy and being ready to get my reps in more so than trying to impress people," Reynolds said of his goals with his new organization this spring. "I think obviously getting the repetitions in, batting practice and grounders and things like that, I've still got to put work in but I think at this point in my career I know what I need to do to go out there and be ready to play."
Being ready to play, Reynolds estimated, likely means about 60 spring at-bats spread throughout the month, though he did insinuate he'll play far more in the next several weeks after some of the non-roster invitees are inevitably reassigned to the minor league backfields.
"I think once we get the numbers down in here and we start playing more into games towards the end of camp, that’s when I’ll be out there a lot more," Reynolds said. "But early on in camp it’s more about keeping your body feeling good and staying right than it is about taking four at-bats in nine innings."
From there, Reynolds is counting down to Opening Day in what he wants to be a bounce back year. Obviously, for a power-hitting first baseman, Colorado is the place to do that. But even though he may be a hired gun for a single season, Reynolds isn't just thinking about himself this year.
"The company line is to help this team win, but that’s what I want to do, in all honesty," Reynolds said of his expectations as a veteran coming to the Rockies. "I’ve been on some good teams in the past, and I’ve been a major player on some of those teams, and then like last year I was just a guy that tried to help the team win in St. Louis, so there’s different parts to every year."
"But I think I’m going to have some fun, too," he added. "We’ve got a good clubhouse and we’ve been having some fun already, and I think the more fun you have the more that translates into winning."
If Reynolds is swinging a hot enough bat to stay in the lineup, you may see plenty of fun this summer in Denver.