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Mark Reynolds returns to Camden Yards as Nationals and Orioles start three-game set

The one-time Baltimore Orioles’ slugger has been crushing since he was called up to the majors earlier this month by Washington’s Nationals...

Washington Nationals  v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Mark Reynolds’ leadoff home run in the ninth inning of Saturday’s matchup with the Marlins in Miami was his fifth in nine games since joining the Washington Nationals, and his, “...10th career go-ahead home run in the 9th inning or later,” as the Nats’ PR team noted after he hit a 3-1 sinker from Brad Ziegler out to left field in Marlins Park.

“That just means I’ve been playing a long time,” Reynolds joked with MASN’s Dan Kolko, who asked what the fact that he came up big in the late-game, high-pressure situations so often meant.

“There’s really no pressure,” Reynolds said. “You’re just trying to get on base, and see what happens, and just happened to leave a pitch up for me.

“The sinker didn’t sink for him and I put a good swing on it.”

The home run was the fourth Ziegler has allowed in 22 23 IP in 2018, and the second by a right-handed hitter.

Reynolds said he just got what he was looking for in a hitter-friendly count.

Washington Nationals  v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

“3-1,” he explained, “I knew he didn’t want to walk me, put the leadoff guy on base, I was looking for something up, and he threw it there for me.”

Reynolds’ blast came a half-inning after he helped thwart an eighth-inning rally by the Fish, fielding a sharp, one-hop liner at first with runners on second and third and throwing home to catcher Pedro Severino, who applied a sweeping tag on Marlins’ outfielder Cameron Maybin for the second out of what ended up a scoreless inning in a game that was tied at 1-1 at the time.

“He’s a baseball player,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters, in discussing the spark Reynolds has provided since he was called up during the Nationals’ recent visit to Arizona.

“He plays the game the right way. He does a lot of good things, and like I said before, I’m really happy to have him.”

Reynolds’ 1 for 4 day in South Florida left him 14 for 27 (.444 AVG) with a double and the five home runs in the nine games and five starts since he was called up from AAA Syracuse after signing a minor league deal with Washington in mid-April after waiting all winter for a major league offer that never arrived.

Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies last week about the veteran slugger coming up big since he’s come up, with two home runs in his debut for the Nats in Arizona and three more since.

“I drafted him in 2004 when I was with the Diamondbacks in the 16th Round,” Rizzo said.

“He’s a local boy, he’s always had prodigious power, he can really loft balls and swing really, really hard, and he can hit the ball a mile, but struck out a whole lot, but through his career, he’s closing in on 300 home runs, which is an unbelievable career, but struck out a whole lot.

“This is a guy that hit 30 home runs last year, drove in a 97 runs for the Colorado Rockies and couldn’t get a full-time major league job.”

Reynolds did finally take the Nationals’ offer of a minor league deal, with Rizzo convincing him that it was better to get going and build up like you would in Spring Training while he waited for an opportunity in the majors.

“Our relationship helped, we trusted each other when we called to bring him in on a minor league contract, go to the minor leagues for a short period of time.

“He trusted that we would do right by him, and follow our word and live up to our word, and the agreement we had, so we signed him, coincidently [Ryan Zimmerman] went down soon thereafter, and we kind of just plugged him in as our right-handed first baseman and he came out of the gates really, really hot, and won us that game in Arizona.

“[Reynolds has] played extremely well offensively and defensively for us here in the short-term, but we think that he’s going to be a contributor to us. He’s a veteran presence, been through the wars before, and I think really has an appreciation of being on a winning team in a winning culture that we have here.”

“The talent obviously is really good,” Reynolds told Kolko when asked for his early thoughts on the team he joined earlier this month. “We’ve got a lot of guys on the DL that are really good, and when those guys come back we’re going to be even that much better, and Davey keeps it loose, we have a good time, and he treats us like adults and he expects us to get ready to play, and it’s just a really fun clubhouse, and we have a good time.”

This afternoon, the 12-year veteran returns to Camden Yards, where he’s hit 30 career home runs in 154 games, 28 of them in two seasons (2011-12) when it was his home park.

He wrapped the series finale in Miami up with a single after he came on late as a defensive replacement, and score a run on an RBI double by Trea Turner. With the hit, Reynolds has a seven-game hit streak going into this week’s series in Baltimore.