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New Nat Reynolds embracing his versatility

Ability to play all over diamond opening doors for former Mets shortstop prospect
MLB.com @JamalCollier

JUPITER Fla. -- When he first learned he would have to switch from shortstop, Matt Reynolds admitted he was a little upset. He was still with the Mets organization then and had once been considered their shortstop of the future and a piece of their young core going forward.

"I took it as, 'Hey, you're not good enough to play SS,'" Reynolds said Wednesday morning. "After kind of thinking about it for a few days, I realized that if I go out there and show that I can play third, second, left, center, it makes my value so much higher.

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JUPITER Fla. -- When he first learned he would have to switch from shortstop, Matt Reynolds admitted he was a little upset. He was still with the Mets organization then and had once been considered their shortstop of the future and a piece of their young core going forward.

"I took it as, 'Hey, you're not good enough to play SS,'" Reynolds said Wednesday morning. "After kind of thinking about it for a few days, I realized that if I go out there and show that I can play third, second, left, center, it makes my value so much higher.

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So Reynolds began embracing the idea of eventually becoming a super utility player. He started playing more second base in 2014. By '15, he added third base to his resume. Then in '16, he started playing in the outfield.

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That sort of versatility is one of the reasons he was enticing to the Nationals this winter after he was designated for assignment by the Mets. Reynolds has played six different positions in the Majors: all four infield positions -- including second base, where he started during Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Cardinals -- and both corner-outfield positions. Reynolds even played center field during his time in the Mets' Minor League system.

Already this spring, Reynolds has appeared at four different positions -- shortstop, second base, third base and left field.

Video: NYM@MIA: Reynolds robs Dietrich with leaping throw

"I asked him if he could catch, but he said, 'No,'" Nats manager Dave Martinez said with a laugh. "At every position, he's really good."

Entering this spring, Reynolds had spent his entire six-year professional career in the Mets' organization since being drafted by New York in the second round in 2012. He was a little surprised when he was designated for assignment, but he also considered the possibility that a move might be made after New York signed Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Reyes and Todd Frazier to go along with incumbents Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera, producing a glut of infielders.

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Arriving to West Palm Beach, Fla., for Spring Training with the Nats felt weird and different at first, Reynolds said, but just as he grew into the utility role, he feels much more comfortable around his new team about a month into camp.

And with the Nats, Reynolds has found a model to emulate in Howie Kendrick, whom the Nats re-signed to a two-year deal this offseason to be one of their first reserve options off the bench.

"He's the kind of player that I want to be," Reynolds said. "You can put him anywhere and he's going to be a quality player at any of those positions, so I kind of use him as a guy to look up to and follow around."

Reynolds does have a chance of breaking camp with the Nationals, especially if second baseman Daniel Murphy begins the season on the disabled list. That would likely slide Kendrick in as the primary second baseman, leaving Reynolds to fill Kendrick's role on the bench. It's one of the perks being a utility player has provided Reynolds: Being able to fill in on so many different positions has opened up different chances.

"Especially if I go out there and play them well," Reynolds said, "there's been so many more opportunities for me to get called up and for me to stay up. I view it as a good thing to be able to play all of these positions."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Matt Reynolds