As Les Shapiro and most baseball fans know, Rockies new first baseman Mark Reynolds has put up some big home run numbers in his career. In seven of his nine years in the majors, Reynolds has eclipsed 20 home runs, including a career-high 44 in 2009. The 32-year-old, who spent last year with St. Louis, saw his longball total dip last year to a career low of 13 in 2015, but Shapiro and his co-host Eric Goodman expect Reynolds to see those numbers rebound at hitter-friendly Coors Field. They also say Reynolds is a pretty darn good defensive first baseman as well.

“I take a lot of pride in saving throws and picking balls because I remember when I was a third baseman I always appreciated it when the first baseman picked me up,” Reynolds told Goodman and Shapiro on Mile High Sports AM 1340 on Wednesday. It will help that he’s playing alongside two All-Star infielders in Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu.

But Reynolds makes no bones about it. A big part of the reason he came to Colorado is the idea of hitting at altitude.

“That was obviously a big draw,” he said. “Obviously hitting at Coors [Field] for half the games helps. I think I’ve had pretty good numbers there, and I’m looking forward to getting there and playing half my games at altitude.”

Reynolds is a career .230 hitter (also his average last year with the Cardinals), but at Coors Field he’s hit .287 in 35 games, as well as eight home runs and 23 RBIs. Two of those games came in the postseason of 2007, when Reynolds was a rookie and the Rockies were on their magical “Rocktober” run. Reynolds remembers those October games vividly.

“I remember we clinched the NL West in Colorado last year and the Rockies had won 18 or 19 or 20 or something ridiculous like that and we had to come in there and win one game and we barely did, and we won the West. We knew going into that NLCS that the Rockies were hot … we knew it was going to be a tough series and we played them all year, played them tough all year with the D-Backs, but they brought it and we didn’t … that was a great experience, being my rookie year and getting that far – almost getting to the World Series.”

In the eight years in between, Reynolds has played for six clubs (including Arizona). Goodman asked if it’s becoming routine for Reynolds to change affiliations so regularly.

“I’m getting kind of used to it, to be honest. I’m running out of wall space for my jerseys at home, too,” Reynolds laughed. But Colorado does have a little sense of home, even though he’s the new guy in the clubhouse.

“Being around for so long, I’ve played against a lot of guys, played with a lot of guys. I played with CarGo [Carlos Gonzalez] from Rookie ball to Double-A – played with him every step of the way – so I knew him really well … so I knew some of the guys coming in, so it’s been a smooth transition especially with [manager Walt Weiss] and his staff.”

Goodman wondered if the biggest change for Reynolds won’t be the culture change form his last destination, where 100 wins was the expectation, to Colorado, where the team has be closer to 100 losses over the past several years.

“It’s different,” Reynolds admitted. “Obviously, last year in St. Louis we were expected to do what we did when we won 100 games and won the [National League] Central … so it’s different. But sometimes when you don’t have expectations the pressure comes of and you come out there and play loose and have fun and maybe surprise some people.”

Reynolds has seen it happen firsthand in recent years.

“When I was in Milwaukee in 2014, we didn’t have very high expectations and I think we were leading the Central Division all the way until September. I think in a lot of ways it lets the guys play loose and have fun … but we’re all competitors and we all want to win, so we don’t really care what the outside people say because we know what we have in the clubhouse that outside people don’t know.”

As for what it will take, Reynolds was clear.

“I think our offense is one of the best in baseball and if we can get some guys out, I think we can have a chance.”

Personally, Reynolds expects his numbers to rebound thanks to the Coors Field bump, although he wouldn’t put a number on his home run expectations for the year.

“I’m not going to put a number on it … It’s all relative. It depends on how many at-bats I get, depends on how I’m playing – a bunch of things – if I stay healthy. Obviously there’s a lot of factors there, but barring any crazy things happening hopefully the number’s up there. Like I said, it was a big draw for me to sign here.”

How many at-bats he gets will be a product of how well he’s swinging the bat – another reason he came to Colorado. Weiss told Reynolds, he’ll play the hot bat between him and Ben Paulsen.

“Getting some playing time, getting some at-bats is obviously another draw for me. Walt basically told me whoever’s swinging the hot bat is going to play. You can’t ask for anything more than that – you gotta’ go out an perform and earn your playing time.”

Reynolds will get his chance to earn that playing time officially starting on April 4 in Arizona.

Listen to the full conversation with Reynolds, plus talk on Colorado’s new Opening Day shortstop Trevor Story, in the podcast below…

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