SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies' Mark Reynolds appreciates his new opportunity but feels the pain of first baseman Ian Desmond, who will have surgery after suffering a fracture in his left hand when hit with a pitch Sunday afternoon.Last season, Reynolds, 33, batted .282 with a .356 on-base percentage in
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies' Mark Reynolds appreciates his new opportunity but feels the pain of first baseman Ian Desmond, who will have surgery after suffering a fracture in his left hand when hit with a pitch Sunday afternoon.
Last season, Reynolds, 33, batted .282 with a .356 on-base percentage in 118 games of a season twice interrupted with hand fractures. First was a broken hamate bone, which cost him most of August. Next was a left hand fracture when he was hit with a pitch on Sept. 18, which ended his season.
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Unable to land a Major League contract, Reynolds re-signed with the Rockies as a non-roster invitee seeking a utility role, with part of the job being to back up Desmond, who signed a five-year, $70 million contract. Now Reynolds finds himself in line to start.
"I know exactly what he feels, what he's going through and how much he hates being hurt, because I hated it last year more than anything," Reynolds said. "It's a tough situation, but he'll be back fine. He's just got to get that thing healthy and strong.
"Coming in, it was pretty obvious what my role was going to be, playing left, third, first. That's what I was prepared to do, but always being ready to get out there regularly. Unfortunately, Ian got hurt yesterday."
The Rockies haven't announced a timeline for Desmond's return, but Reynolds said it could take a while. Reynolds broke his pinky metacarpal last year, and Desmond's injury is a broken second metacarpal.
"I couldn't play golf until after Thanksgiving," Reynolds said. "It still felt weak when I started golfing again. I really didn't get cleared to swing a baseball bat until mid-December, just because of the vibration and the sting it puts on your hand. It takes time to heal. You can't do anything to rehab it faster."
Desmond is an offensive threat with power, speed and bat-handling ability who was rapidly learning first base. Reynolds made the conversion from third base in 2012 with the Orioles, who brought up star Manny Machado to play third. Reynolds has improved defensively at the position.
Last year, according to Baseball Info Solutions, Reynolds finished eighth among Major League first basemen in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) with four. His 110 defensive appearances at the position were the second-fewest of any player in the top 10.
"He's athletic," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He's got good hands. Not watching him play last year but watching video and hearing our guys talk about him, he was above-average as a defender at first. He made plays. Our guys feel really comfortable about him playing the position. So does he."
Black said Desmond can be moved to various spots in the lineup because of the power-speed-bat-handling combination. Reynolds is not as versatile, but he's happy with what happened last season, when he went from a high risk-high reward to more of a contact-based approach.
"I did like my average being up there," Reynolds said. "I liked my on-base percentage being up there. I don't foresee myself changing what I did last year. Obviously, I'd like my power numbers up a little bit, but I'm going to have a chance to hopefully make this team and play and contribute."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.