Reynolds puts HR streak on the line to play for winner

Slugger has hit at least 20 homers in seven straight seasons

Reynolds puts HR streak on the line to play for winner

JUPITER, Fla. -- Mark Reynolds will open the season among a company of six Major League hitters with at least 20 home runs in each of the last seven seasons. However, not only is he the lone one in that group without an All-Star selection, but also the only player preparing this spring without the guarantee of a starting job.

Reynolds signed a one-year, $2-million contract with the Cardinals in December knowing that coming to St. Louis would cost him playing time. That was OK, he concluded, because of what he could gain instead.

"I'm at the point in my career where I want to win," Reynolds said. "I feel like I could have gone elsewhere and had more of a role, but it was a no-brainer to be here with this team and help in any way I can.

"The personal stuff went out the window a long time ago. I'm in my ninth year now and have been to the playoffs twice. There is nothing like it. I want to get back there and experience that again and try to get that ring."

Reynolds' solo homer

Reynolds' role will be determined both by his own success and that of Matt Adams. Reynolds, 31, was signed to give the Cardinals first-base protection in case Adams struggles against left-handed pitching. Reynolds also gives the Cardinals a backup at third base, though Matt Carpenter will get the regular starts there as long as he's healthy.

Reynolds has never started fewer than 102 games in a season, averaging 136 over this stretch of seven straight 20-homer years. The others entering the season riding the same personal home run streak include Hunter Pence, David Ortiz, Brian McCann, Miguel Cabrera and Reynolds' new teammate, Matt Holliday.

"It's obviously a streak I would like to keep going, but knowing the role I accepted when I came here, it wasn't like, 'Oh man, I can't go there because I can't hit 20 homers,'" Reynolds said. "It's more of just a consistency, longevity thing. And you never know? Maybe my role will start increasing a bit if I start swinging it well. Hopefully nobody gets hurt, but if it happens, I'll be here to step in."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.