Reynolds on track to post two dubious marks

Reynolds on track to post two dubious marks

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."