Friday, April 9, 2010

Major league veteran a mentor for younger 51s player

By Anthony Fenech

Friday, April 9, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.

Jeremy Reed is entering his ninth year of playing professional baseball.

During his career, he’s played outfield in the American League and first base in the National League.

This season, he will be playing the role of leader in the Pacific Coast League, as one in a stable of veterans to help guide the Las Vegas 51s.

The 51s opened their season on Thursday at Cashman Field with a 2-0 victory against the Salt Lake Bees.

“Hopefully I can spread some knowledge to the young guys,” Reed said. “Baseball is a game of adjustments and a game of learning.”

Reed is a 28-year-old outfielder who comes to the 51s from the New York Mets. He played 126 games with the Mets last season, hitting .242 while playing four different positions.

This spring, Reed was one of the last men phased out of the Blue Jays roster despite finishing fifth in the American League with a .431 batting average.

“My spring was great,” he said. “I felt like I did everything I could to make the team. It came down to a numbers thing and that was that. I can’t complain about where I’m at or how I’ve performed.”

Reed was a second-round pick of the Chicago White Sox in 2002 and was a key piece in a June 2004 trade that sent Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Freddy Garcia to the White Sox.

After hitting just under .400 in limited time as a September call-up that season, Reed received nearly 500 at-bats worth of playing time the following season. For his career, he is a .255 hitter and averaged just under 49 runs per MLB season.

Now, for perhaps the first time in his career, he will serve as one of the veterans on a team, and 51s manager Dan Rohn plans on using his solid bat near the middle of the batting order.

“He brings a definite stability to both the ballclub and the clubhouse,” Rohn said. “He’s a guy that’s got six-plus years in the big leagues and he knows what he needs to do.”

And Reed knows what he can do, based on his past experiences.

“Last year was a learning experience for me,” he said. “I learned a lot from the players there, and it made me a better player. New York is one of those places that if you can play there, you can play anywhere.”

If Reed continues his hot hitting into the regular season, he might quickly find himself playing in Toronto.

“I’ve learned to understand that baseball is a business,” he said. “But hopefully I won’t be here very long, and I’ll get back to where I expect to be.”

Rohn said Reed will begin the season in right field but will most likely mix in some starts in center field and hit fifth or sixth in the lineup.

His influence outside of the lineup, however, can already be seen at Cashman Field.

“There’s a few guys here that have already started asking questions,” Reed said. “I’ll do anything I can to help.”

And his manager will enjoy Reed’s help while it lasts.

“He’s going to be a big influence on the young guys,” Rohn said. “The guys that haven’t really had a taste at it are the guys he’ll help.”

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