Slugger Reynolds in talks for new contract

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona slugger Mark Reynolds says his agent is in "pretty heavy talks" on a new contract with the Diamondbacks.

Reynolds, one of many prominent Arizona position players who have arrived early for spring training, said he couldn't share any figures but the deal would be for either the two or three arbitration-eligible seasons beginning in 2011.

"Obviously I've never been through this before," Reynolds said on Sunday. "It's a process, I can tell you that. But I know they're getting into pretty heavy talks right now and hopefully in the next couple of weeks" a deal will be reached.

He said the team wants a new contract for cost certainty and he wants it for job security.

"There is motivation on both sides to get it done so hopefully it's going to be sooner rather than later," Reynolds said.

Just how soon he doesn't know.

"I don't know about shortly," Reynolds said, "but I know that opening day is the deadline. If it happens, great. If it doesn't, I'm still doing pretty well."

The 26-year-old third baseman hit 44 home runs — fourth-most in the NL — with 105 RBIs and 98 runs last year, his second full season in the majors.

On the down side, he set a major league record for strikeouts (223) for the second year in a row. He is the only player in major league history to reach 200 strikeouts, and he's done it twice.

But that doesn't prevent him from being a cornerstone of the Arizona offense as the Diamondbacks try to regroup and rebuild after a dismal 2009 campaign.

"It's something he's fought for his whole career," manager A.J. Hinch said of the strikeouts. "It's something that he's going to have to pay attention to. But 44 home runs, 100 RBIs, 100 runs scored, there's some productivity that comes with that."

The Diamondbacks don't want to tinker too much with Reynolds' approach.

"Do we want him to get better at it? Sure. It's a hot topic for him," Hinch said. "Do I want him to set the strikeout record every year? No. ... As long as it doesn't take away his strengths, we're going to work on that."

Reynolds brought up the strikeouts without anyone even asking him about them.

"I've got to be more patient, I've got to really zone in and wait for my pitch and cut down on the strikeouts, an all-around better player and more of a complete hitter than kind of an all-or-nothing guy."

Some say that striking out is simply an inevitable part of Reynolds' game, that you take the bad with the good.

"Yeah, that's who I am but there's always room for improvement," he said. "I've got another year of maturing under my belt ... and I'm learning a lot along the way."

Reynolds was a 16th-round draft pick called up from Double-A Mobile in 2007 as a necessity because of injuries. He went on to become a fixture on the young team that surprisingly won the NL West and made it to the NLCS.

Last year, as the team faded to last in the division, Reynolds picked up his game. Strikeouts aside, he raised his batting average from .239 to .260, his home run total from 28 to 44 and his RBIs from 62 to 97.

Even-tempered and friendly by nature, he became a reluctant leader, even calling out his teammates publicly.

In the offseason, Reynolds became a father. His son Jacob was born Oct. 16.

It's been a very quick ride for the former University of Virginia player.

"I remember coming in here being No. 71 and hoping for a couple ABs (at-bats) in spring training and now I'm talking contracts," Reynolds said. "It goes fast, a quick turnaround, but I'm thanking the Lord everyday for getting to come here and put on this uniform and play the game I love."