Tribe holding big hopes for slugger Reynolds

Tribe holding big hopes for slugger Reynolds

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mark Reynolds' son was in the stands at Goodyear Ballpark on Friday night when the Indians designated hitter launched a mammoth home run that arced over the top of the scoreboard that looms behind the left-field lawn seats.

After the game, 3-year-old Jacob Reynolds talked to his dad about the blast.

"He said, 'You hit it and nobody caught it,'" Reynolds said with a smile on Saturday morning. "He's figuring it out."

The Indians hope Reynolds can keep hitting baseballs were nobody can catch them this season.

That was the idea when Cleveland reeled Reynolds in with a one-year contract over the winter.

The Indians have lacked a true right-handed power hitter over the past few seasons and the team believes Reynolds can fill that void. Dating back to 2008, Reynolds ranks fourth in baseball in home runs by a right-handed hitter (164). Only Albert Pujols (193), Miguel Cabrera (183) and Ryan Braun (168) have launched more homers in that span.

This spring, Reynolds has hit .350 (14-for-40) with three homers and seven RBIs in 15 Cactus League games.

"I think he's exactly what we expected," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's a guy that can play first, DH, and we can run him over to third. The hope is that there's production there, because there's going to be strikeouts. But I don't think you try to mess with changing his [style]."

Reynolds averaged 208 strikeouts per year from 2008-11, but he also posted an average of 35 home runs and 92 RBIs in that same four-year stretch. He set the single-season strikeout record with 223 in 2009, but that season he also hit .260 with 44 home runs and 102 RBIs for the D-backs.

He's enjoyed a few tape-measure moonshots along the way.

"I run into one every now and then," Reynolds said with a smirk.

Reynolds shrugged off Friday night's blast against the D-backs.

"I'm just glad my kid was in the stands to see it," he said.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.