During a game in Tempe two weeks ago, Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds made a nice pickup of a ground ball and delivered a perfect feed to second to start a double play.
The ball found him on the next play, too, but his feet got crossed up and he misplayed the grounder.
“He’s been a little bit hit and miss (defensively),” manager Bob Melvin said.
After a season in which he led the majors in errors (35) and strikeouts (204), Reynolds will be under the microscope this year.
On the defensive side, his error total does not look encouraging; he has seven in 19 exhibition games. And while his strikeout total still seems high – he has 14 in 49 at-bats – it is improved from his rate last season, although the sample size is quite small.
Reynolds struck out in 37.8 percent of his at-bats last season; he has that down to 28.7 percent in spring training.
“I’ve been encouraged,” Melvin said. “I know actually he’s got some errors, but I think on both ends of it he’s getting a little tougher and not letting it affect him as much.”
Melvin was asked if Reynolds’ defense might cause him to use a defensive replacement such as Augie Ojeda late in games.
“When you have a player like Augie, who’s as sure-handed as anybody in baseball, it’s hard not to do,” Melvin said. “I really don’t want to get into that with Mark right away. There’s been times he’s been as good a fielder as we’ve had. I’d be hesitant to do that right away.”
Under Melvin, the Diamondbacks have almost always had 12-man pitching staffs – five starters, seven relievers.
That likely won’t change for most of this season, but with the club not needing a fifth starter until April 14, it could give that extra roster spot to a position player.
If the club initially carries 11 pitchers, Melvin still will have seven relievers. But he said that because starters don’t typically pitch as deep in games early in the year, an extra reliever could come in handy.
Shortstop Stephen Drew (abdominal strain) returned to the lineup for the first time since March 21. He went 2 for 3 with a double.
• There was a short delay in Sunday’s game due to a swarm of bees.
• Outfielder Evan Frey was reassigned to minor-league camp.