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Cleveland cut the former Virginia standout in August, then he signed with the storied New York franchise.
New York Yankees Mark Reynolds doubles against the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 10 in Baltimore. Curtis Granderson scored on the play, and New York won 7-5.
New York Yankees' Mark Reynolds reacts after striking out against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 3. The Yankees won 6-4.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Mark Reynolds began the season as a hot hitter for the Cleveland Indians.
Then came a long slump, followed by the chance to bounce back with a new team.
The former Virginia standout is now a regular with the New York Yankees.
“Coming back and playing well with the Yankees proves to myself that I can be resilient and get through anything,” Reynolds said Saturday in a phone interview.
Reynolds was released by the Indians on Aug. 12, but the first baseman/third baseman signed with the Yankees later in the week. He is now a teammate of Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
“The coolest part was getting to play with guys like Jete and Mariano and A-Rod, all these guys I grew up watching,” said Reynolds, who belted his 20th homer of the season and the 201st of his career Sunday. “Being teammates with them is pretty cool.
“I get to witness Mo [Rivera] riding off into the sunset, and getting to hang around guys like Jete and A-Rod, just soaking in all their experience and all their knowledge.”
The Yankees are in the hunt for one of the American League’s two wild card berths. But after Sunday’s loss, they trail Cleveland for the second berth by four games with six games to go.
Reynolds helped the Baltimore Orioles make the playoffs last year, when he hit .221 with 23 homers and 69 RBIs. The Orioles did not want him back, so he signed a one-year deal with Cleveland.
Reynolds, 30, began his time in Cleveland on a promising note, hitting .301 with eight homers in April. But he hit just .218 with five homers in May; .187 with two homers in June; and .098 with no homers in July.
“It’s always hard when you slump as bad as I did,” said Reynolds, in his seventh major-league season. “If I was a younger player, it might have worn at me a little more, but I’ve been around awhile now. I know that every season has its ups and downs. I couldn’t get much lower than I was, but I knew things would eventually turn around.”
His playing time in Cleveland diminished, making it hard to keep his timing as a hitter. He got only 51 at-bats in July.
The Indians designated him for assignment on Aug. 8 and released him four days later.
Reynolds was unemployed for less than a week. He said the Orioles, Kansas City and Texas expressed interest in him, but he felt the Yankees provided the best chance to play consistently.
He said he knew his slump did not mean his career was nearing an end.
“The good thing about being at this level is every game’s on TV and you have so much video equipment,” he said. “You can analyze your swing and see different things you’re doing at different at-bats. And knowing that you didn’t get to the big leagues by luck, you got here because you can play, you know eventually if you get out there and keep grinding away and keep getting at-bats, things will eventually turn around.”
Reynolds homered in his first at-bat with the Yankees on Aug. 16. He hit .306 in August, including three games with the Indians and 13 with the Yankees.
“It’s getting opportunities consistently, making a few adjustments with our hitting coach and having the confidence of people around you,” he said. “It was kind of a timing thing. I was really late on some pitches. [It was a matter of] getting my foot down earlier and trying to recognize pitches a little earlier and just swinging at better pitches.”
He is hitting .237 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 30 games as a Yankee, including .189 with three homers this month.
Reynolds has enjoyed being around for Rivera’s final season. The retiring closer has been honored with gifts in pregame ceremonies at every ballpark the Yankees have visited this year.
“He’s a gentleman. That’s [the] perception and that’s the way he is in real life,” Reynolds said. “The amazing thing he’s done with one pitch [the cutter] his whole career, the hitter knows what’s coming and they still can’t hit it. It’s fun to play behind.
“It’s really neat watching all the gifts he’s getting and all the respect he’s gotten around the game from all the players.”
Rodriguez, on the other hand, has become one of baseball’s villains.
“The more hatred he gets from people, the better he plays,” Reynolds said. “It’s easy, when you see how hard he works and how much he wants to win, to kind of be on his side. He’s definitely a good guy to be around, full of knowledge.”
Reynolds will be a free agent at season’s end, but even if he doesn’t return to the Yankees, he will always remember his time with Rivera, Jeter, Rodriguez and company.
“I’m sure once I’m long gone from this game, I can look back on this time and tell some stories and be honored I played with all these guys,” he said.
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