A year ago, Bryan Reynolds arrived at spring training for the Pittsburgh Pirates as the unknown minor league outfielder who was part of the return in the trade for the team’s most popular player.
Reynolds had a hard time describing the feeling after coming to the Pirates along with reliever Kyle Crick from the San Francisco Giants in the Andrew McCutchen trade.
“The first camp was kind of, I don’t want to say weird. It was just different, my first major league camp with a new team,” Reynolds said. “I don’t know anything, don’t know anybody, don’t know where to go. It was uncomfortable, more than anything, but I got to know a lot of the guys. They’re great. It’s a lot better now, a lot more comfortable.”
A year later, after proving his bat was as good as advertised, Reynolds is back in camp with the Pirates and trying to show he’s an all-around player who could be part of their future outfield.
And he’s learned to be smart about it.
After going 1 for 21 in 13 games at spring training last year, Reynolds required surgery in April to remove a fractured hook of the hamate bone in his left hand, an injury that happened while swinging a bat. It required six weeks of recovery, which delayed his start to the season.
“It was the first week with a new organization, trying to show what you can do to people who don’t know you,” Reynolds said, “and getting hurt was tough.”
Reynolds learned to stop trying to prove he could live up to the trade and start doing what he does best. After a slow start, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound right fielder ended up slashing .302/.381/.438 with 18 doubles, three triples, seven home runs and 46 RBIs in 88 games at Double-A Altoona.
“When I got healthy again, I was putting pressure on myself,” Reynolds said. “If I think that way — or if anybody that gets traded thinks that way — it would hinder you a little bit. It is what it is. Be the player you are.
“It was just a little speed bump in the road. You’ve got to work through things like that, make you stronger as a person, mentally, physically, everything. It’s obviously good to be healthy, but looking back, I’m thankful for it.”
Reynolds started strong this spring, with hits in three of his first four games. But he’s still adjusting to major league pitching and is 3 for 15 with five strikeouts. Reynolds is expected to start the season at Triple-A Indianapolis, where he hopes to take another step toward playing in the Pirates outfield.
“Being healthy obviously is the goal all the time,” Reynolds said. “I’ve taken a lot of pride in my hitting. I’m looking forward to this year. I think it’ll be a good one.”