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Druley: East grad Reynolds eases into MLB offseason

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 5:31 a.m. CST

Matt Reynolds and his wife, Laura, entertained Chicagoland friends at their new Nashville, Tenn., home during the weekend.

Sunday’s portion of the gathering proved to be an extension of what Bears coach Lovie Smith called “Soldier Field South” after his team drubbed the Tennessee Titans at Nashville’s LP Field.

“House stuff” and couch time already were heavy in Reynolds’ itinerary since the Colorado Rockies’ season ended last month. The left-handed reliever and St. Charles East alumnus still plans a few weeks of weaning himself from baseball before throwing again.

“You play every single day for 200 days and then all of a sudden you’re off it,” Reynolds said. “It’s almost like you’ve kind of got to ease yourself away.”

Part of Reynolds wanted to keep pitching after the Rockies finished 64-98, 30 games behind the eventual world champion San Francisco Giants in the NL West.

While his 4.41 ERA in 71 games and 57 1/3 innings weren’t up to his standards – or last year’s 4.09 mark in 73 appearances – Reynolds felt himself turning a corner. He was staying aggressive, attacking the strike zone and consistently throwing his off-speed pitches for strikes, mimicking the pattern that helped him quickly ascend the Colorado organization as a minor leaguer.

Reynolds compiled a 2.25 September ERA after struggling to a 10.00 ERA over 13 appearances in August. One of his final outings, a scoreless inning at San Francisco on Sept. 19, wasn’t enough salve as Reynolds casually followed the Giants’ World Series sweep of the Detroit Tigers.

“Anytime they’re in a pinch, they’re able to manufacture runs,” Reynolds said. “It’s kind of bitter to watch the World Series when a team in your division that has beaten up on you pretty good is taking it home.”

That aside, Reynolds never considered turning away from the TV. He tuned in for at least part of each Series game, although he apparently forgot to channel the 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief he logged against Detroit in interleague play as a pick-me-up.

Reynolds faced the Tigers in June, when the Rockies weren’t yet limping toward the franchise record for single-season losses.

“It was definitely up-and-down, not just personally, but for our team, as well,” Reynolds said. “There’s a lot to be taken away from seasons like this. It’s kind of a big learning process. You work on things and you’ve got to really stay mentally sharp and focused throughout a long season whether you’re having a good year or a down year.”

Per his usual offseason schedule, Reynolds will begin playing catch in the early winter before gradually rebuilding his arm strength with long-toss. He typically throws off a mound for the first time in January, a few weeks before spring training.

The Giants’ World Series run and the Rockies’ managerial search have kept Reynolds more invested in baseball than during his first two offseasons with Colorado. He called Jim Tracy’s resignation “kind of a bummer because a lot of this happens because we’re not holding up our end of the bargain, so to speak.”

Jason Giambi, Reynolds’ former teammate, is among the candidates for the job.

One man decidedly not in the running – Saints coach Len Asquini – still keeps in regular touch with Reynolds, who remains close with former East pitching coach Joe Host, too.

• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com.

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