Big League Stew - MLB

SARASOTA, Fla. — Of all the players who fall under the prefabricated "change of scenery" storyline this spring, Mark Reynolds(notes) might own the highest profile.

The big slugging and bigger whiffing third baseman landed with the Baltimore Orioles after being traded in the offseason by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

On Tuesday, he cited the usual suspects — fresh start, new manager, etc. — as positives of being swapped for two young pitchers. But he also offered another reason for being pleased with his move across the country.  

"I grew up in Virginia Beach, so I'm used to it," Reynolds said in the O's clubhouse at Ed Smith Stadium. "I'll be around family and friends. If I was going to be traded, it was one of the better places to go."

Reynolds should fit right in with an Orioles lineup that's full of players he says can "do some real damage on just one pitch." He will also be a good defensive presence at third in Baltimore's revamped infield.

Still, it was weird to see his golden locks in orange-and-black after seeing him in Arizona's Sedona red the past seasons. If we want to go down the whole "what a difference a year makes" path, it was just last spring that I stood in a clubhouse and watched Reynolds talk about the new three-year, $14.5 million deal the D-Backs had given him through 2012. With Justin Upton(notes) and Dan Haren(notes), Reynolds was poised to lead Arizona into the future.

A year later, both parties can bear blame for the split after 2011. As I wrote at the time of the trade, it wasn't hard to see how the relationship crumbled so quickly:

Josh Byrnes was fired, Dan Haren was traded to the Angels (by interim guy Jerry DiPoto), Kevin Towers was hired as the permanent GM and Reynolds helped the D'Backs set an all-time record for most strikeouts by one team in a season. Towers made the declaration that all those Ks wouldn't be tolerated and, like that, Reynolds was shipped to the Baltimore Orioles for relievers David Hernandez(notes) and Kam Mickolio(notes) on Monday morning.

Reynolds, of course, did more than just help lead the D-Backs to that record. He drove the freakin' bus by becoming the first qualified position player to strike out more times (211) than his batting average (.198) x 1,000. And unlike 2009, when Reynolds offset a record-setting 223 strikeouts with 44 homers, his power sunk in 2010 with only 32 homers and 17 doubles (down from 30 the year before).

Reynolds has talked about his strikeouts so many times that I wasn't going to bring it up with him on Tuesday. But they're always going to be part of his repertoire and whether or not a team thinks he can hit enough homers and doubles to justify them will always be part of the decision to keep him on a team. The D-Backs didn't think he was worth it.

But now the Orioles do, which is really all that should really matter to a ballplayer who's getting ready for the season ahead.     

"I'm just trying to get comfortable with my new team and win as many games as we can," Reynolds said in the best new-beginning tone possible. "That's all I'm really thinking about."

'Duk is in the Grapefruit League this week as part of Big League Stew's Spring Swing. Follow his journey up and down Florida's Gulf Coast here and through Facebook and Twitter.   

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