SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The documentary "Fastball," which explores the rare wonder of the pitch that can reach triple digits on radar, opens in select cities in Major League Baseball markets Friday night, including Denver at the Sie FilmCenter. But what about the wonder of the home run, through the eyes
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The documentary "Fastball," which explores the rare wonder of the pitch that can reach triple digits on radar, opens in select cities in Major League Baseball markets Friday night, including Denver at the Sie FilmCenter. But what about the wonder of the home run, through the eyes of Rockies big swinger Mark Reynolds?
Reynolds, one of 22 active players who have eclipsed 40 homers in a season (44 for the D-backs in 2009), took time Friday morning to discuss his rare talent.
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On how the power gift compares to the velocity gift chronicled in the movie -- which is produced by Thomas Tull ("42"), directed by Jonathan Hock and narrated by Kevin Costner:
Reynolds: "I don't think I have this special ability. Take a guy like DJ LeMahieu [six home runs last season]. In batting practice he hits them just as far as anyone. With hitters, it's more approach-oriented rather than ability to do it. With pitchers, there are three guys, four guys in the league that can throw 100 [mph]. But how many different guys are going to hit homers this year?
"If it's 0-0 and a pitch away, it's a good pitch to hit a line drive to right, but I don't swing at that pitch because it's not what I'm looking for. With two strikes it's different; I look for a pitch I can drive out of the ballpark, and maybe that's my downfall. But the way I'm wired, I can't swing at that pitch."
On discovering his power:
Reynolds: "That was definitely not me. I was always a small guy. My nickname growing up sometimes was 'Skeletor,' from 'He Man.' It was something with my bat speed that I could hit the ball pretty good. My first over-the-fence home run came maybe at 10. When I graduated high school I was 160-170 pounds, little, then got to college and started lifting and matured, physically."
On how going deep frequently (once every 17.63 at-bats), but striking out often (an MLB-record 223 in 2009) compares to the blessing and curse of throwing hard, but not in the stike zone:
Reynolds: "I don't [think it's a concern], but a lot of media probably did, saying all I could do was hit homers. But it's something that teams want, and I keep getting a job. I remember a guy named Jason Neighborgall, from Georgia Tech, who could throw 100, but could not throw strikes. Teams took a chance on him and he had every chance in the world and couldn't do it. But I wouldn't say it was a curse. God touched his shoulder and arm and said, 'You can throw 100.'"
On the possibility of being appreciated like never before at Coors Field, where left field invites souvenirs:
Reynolds: "The home run is the most instantaneous, exciting play in sports, maybe outside of a triple. You're sitting there, maybe eating a hot dog and next thing you know the ball's flying at you. It happens. In football, you can see a deep route developing and the quarterback looking. In basketball you see pick-and-rolls. In hockey you see guys in different positions. In baseball, you see the pitch, but you don't know what's going to happen. The fans love it.
"Maybe it might endear me to the people in Denver. When I played in Arizona and hit 44 and drove in 102 [with a .260 batting average], it was like all the media could talk about was me striking out. But I'm producing. It was a double-edged sword. To hit home runs at a higher rate than I strike out would be sweet. There are a lot of ways to help a team win."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.