Mets No. 9 prospect plays LF for first time, hits go-ahead HR for first MLB blast
By Joshua Needelman
NEW YORK -- Matt Reynolds' first game in left field came and went without any trouble. Wearing injured Mets outfielder Juan Lagares' glove, Reynolds caught a couple of fly balls, and even nearly threw a runner out at second base.
At the plate, though, Reynolds made a big impact, smacking a 1-0 fastball in the sixth inning into the right-field bullpen, providing the decisive blow in the Mets' 4-3 win over the Royals at Citi Field on Wednesday afternoon. It was his first career home run.
"That was probably one of the biggest moments I've had in my career," said Reynolds, the Mets' No. 9 prospect. "As a baseball player -- not just as a professional. It was a great feeling to help the team win."
The blast proved to be the final blow in a back-and-forth game. In the top of the sixth, Paulo Orlando collected an RBI single off Noah Syndergaard to knot the game at 3.
Reynolds' dinger proved valuable considering Syndergaard, the Mets' most dominant starter, left after six innings with elbow discomfort.
Amid the disappointment surrounding Syndergaard's injury, though, Reynolds provided a bright spot. He took the place of regular left fielder Michael Conforto, who is hitting .091 against left-handers.
Reynolds went 0-for-2 against left-hander Danny Duffy, who started the game. But in the sixth, Reynolds went deep against right-hander Joakim Soria.
That Terry Collins was able to slip Reynolds into the Mets' lineup was a testament to the rookie's attitude, the manager said. During Spring Training, Collins told Reynolds to go shag some fly balls in the outfield.
"He didn't give me any looks, like, 'What am I a utility man?' He took some fly balls," Collins said. "He's done it since he's been here."
With the Mets' fourth outfielder, Alejandro De Aza, hitting .165, Reynolds could receive more time in the outfield going forward. Plus, Yoenis Cespedes exited the game early with left wrist discomfort.
After the contest, Collins praised Reynolds' adaptability and athleticism. Reynolds is fine with playing in the outfield -- whatever it takes to get onto the field and help the team win.
On Wednesday, he was able to turn an opportunity into a Mets victory, one he'll remember for a long time. Reynolds was asked whom he was going to give the home run ball to.
"My dad," he said.
Joshua Needelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.