Reynolds on track to post two dubious marks
Slugger could end up with lower average than strikeout total
PHOENIX -- Mark Reynolds said that his 2010 campaign has been "a big learning curve." Unfortunately for the D-backs' third baseman, he appears to be flat-lining.
Reynolds officially sunk below the Mendoza Line on Friday night -- his fourth-inning flyout lowered his batting average to .199 -- though it wouldn't be fair to reduce his season to one unsightly number. Unfortunately, there's more.
With eight games remaining, Reynolds has a chance to become the first Major League regular in history to exceed his average with his strikeout total, which sits at an MLB-high 206. The slugger could also post the first 30-plus-homer season -- he has clubbed 32 -- while recording base hits in fewer than 20 percent of his at-bats.
"I'm not going to, per se, throw [the numbers] out," said Reynolds, who is 3-for-his-past-31 at the plate. "It's just going to be more of a motivation going into the offseason and how much more I'm going to push myself to be a better player.
"I know I can do better than I've done. I've shown that in the past."
Which helps explain why interim manager Kirk Gibson batted Reynolds fourth in Friday's lineup. It wasn't simply a vote of confidence. Gibson and others around the club know their swinger is capable of so much more.
In 2009, Reynolds collected career-bests in average (.260), home runs (44) and RBIs (102). Then, last March, Arizona awarded him with a three-year contract extension that includes $12.5 million in salary over the 2011 and '12 seasons. The D-backs hold an $11 million option for '13 before he becomes a free agent.
Few foresaw the 27-year-old's tumultuous 2010, which has included bruises, nicks, scrapes, strains and a concussion resulting from being plunked in the head with a 95-mph fastball on Aug. 3. After the latter, he attempted to play the very the next day (something he now regrets), but he was lifted after feeling woozy and ended up missing the next three games.
"I had never been injured before," said Reynolds, who, the ailments notwithstanding, had played in 141 of his club's first 153 games. "I didn't know how to manage it."
He re-aggravated his jammed right thumb during his seventh-inning at-bat Friday, a popup to second base.
"I don't think he could throw the ball across the diamond," Gibson said. "So he'll probably be sidelined."
Before exiting, Reynolds broke to his left in the sixth to snag Ryan Theriot's well struck ground ball and started a 5-6-3 double play. He knows contributing on defense is the best way to make up for his struggles in the batter's box.
"I hold my own over there pretty well," said Reynolds, who made 18 errors through 141 games and credited first-base coach Matt Williams for providing first-rate instruction. "When I'm not hitting or driving in runs, playing solid third base hopefully helps us wins more games than we should have."
But Reynolds also realizes he's in the big leagues to hit -- not necessarily .300, but well above his current pace.
"Obviously, it's been a frustration all year long," Reynolds said. "Day in and day out, trying to find something that clicks offensively. It's just not there."
Since his big league debut on May 16, 2007, Reynolds has lifted more long balls (121) and driven in the third-most runs (345) amongst all NL third basemen. That's a distinction that he'd like to see through.
"These last nine days, I just want to come out and play as hard as I can, try to get some confidence going into next year," Reynolds said. "Just square a few balls up, have my last feeling of 2010 not a sour one, and hopefully [end] with a bang."
D-backs giving young talent looks in final days
PHOENIX -- D-backs interim skipper Kirk Gibson has made a point of playing his usual starters in games against postseason-hopeful clubs. In the eyes of Gibson, who would characterize himself as a steward of the game of baseball, that's simply the right thing to do.
"I've tried to hold to that if I could," Gibson said before Friday's series opener opposing the Dodgers. "At the same time, I want to give people looks."
So if a couple of the manager's moves in Thursday's 10-9 win over the in-the-race Rockies seemed questionable, now you know why:
Pinch-hitting left-handed hitter Brandon Allen against left-handed hurler Jeff Francis in the fourth? Allen, the club's most Major League-ready power-hitting prospect, has batted .115 (3-for-26) in his brief big league, stints but he will need to learn sometime.
Calling on right-handed reliever Blaine Boyer to pitch to left-handed hitting slugger Carlos Gonzalez with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh?
"I want to put people in situations that they're not used to," Gibson said. "They deserve to prove what they can do."
Gonzalez launched a grand slam.
With the out-of-the-race Dodgers in town, that meant two changes in the middle of the diamond -- reserve Tony Abreu started at shortstop in place of Stephen Drew and John Hester supplanted starter Miguel Montero behind the plate.
Gibson raves over finely-turned double play
PHOENIX -- Thursday's 3-hour, 48-minute win over the Rockies had plenty of dramatic moments.
But D-backs interim manager Kirk Gibson had little trouble identifying his clear-cut favorite: Center fielder Chris Young tracking and catching a deep Melvin Mora fly ball, then hitting cutoff man Kelly Johnson, who flipped to first for a sixth-inning-ending double play.
"If the ball is in the air long enough, you keep your head on a swivel and check the runner," Johnson said. "CY got it in quick enough, and Adam [LaRoche] made a great pick. Got 'em by a hair."
It's a sequence Gibson has talked about on multiple occasions since taking the club's reins on July 2.
"Kelly immediately turned and threw to first, which tells me he had his head on a swivel or he had good communication from Stephen Drew," Gibson said. "He's either out or he's safe based upon that transaction or that transfer.
"Kelly got it. He didn't turn around and take a look; he knew. Those are the finer points of a game that will help you win. I love that play."
If shortstop Stephen Drew's candidacy for what would be his first National League Gold Glove Award comes down to an error here or there -- as it often does -- a play in Thursday's 10-9 win over Colorado could prove to be the difference. Drew's 10th "E" in the scorebook was perhaps his most unusual miscue: obstructing Jay Payton's path to third base in the fifth inning. Drew's .983 fielding percentage in 139 games was second only to Troy Tulowitzki's .984 mark in 113. ... Reserve Tony Abreu has four hits in his past four pinch-hit appearances and is 10-for-35 in that role this season. ... Right fielder Justin Upton (left shoulder irritation) was absent from the D-backs' starting lineup for the ninth consecutive game on Friday.
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.