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R.J. Reynolds

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Robert James Reynolds

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[edit] Introduction

R.J. Reynolds played eight seasons in the major leagues. He was an outfielder who played first for the Los Angeles Dodgers and then for the Pittsburgh Pirates. After his major league days he played in Japan and Mexico.

In an interesting career parallel, both Reynolds and Dave Sax were born in Sacramento (Dave in the second half of 1958 and R.J. in the first half of 1959), and both attended Cosumnes River College (Reynolds was also at Sacramento City College). Both were signed by the Dodgers and worked their way up the Dodgers minor league organization. The two were both on the division-winning 1983 Dodgers and the 1984 Albuquerque Dukes.

[edit] Minor Leagues

Reynolds made his professional debut in 1980 in the class A California League, a high place to start out when most players debut in short-season class A or Rookie Leagues. The #2 pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers that year, Reynolds hit .281 in 86 games. He was with the Vero Beach Dodgers in 1981, batting .277 with 11 triples and 32 steals. He returned to the Lodi Dodgers in '82, picking his game up a notch, hitting .313 with 25 stolen bases. He briefly appeared for AA San Antonio that season. In 1983, Reynolds dazzled for the San Antonio Dodgers of the Texas League - he hit .337 with 18 homers (more than his prior 3 seasons combined - and more than his next 3 seasons combined); R.J. scored 103, drove in 89 and stole 43. He made his major-league debut with LA as a September call-up.

In '84, Reynolds split his season as an okay backup outfielder for Los Angeles and a very good hitter for the AA Albuquerque Dukes (.347).

During the 1984-1985 Dominican League season, Reynolds hit .266/~.359/.462 with the Licey Tigers. His 8 triples probably led the league.

[edit] Major Leagues

In '85, he left the minors behind, spending the bulk of the year with LA. In September, he was sent as a player to be named later to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he settled in as a solid fourth outfielder. That year with the Bucs he hit .308/.357/.462 with 3 homers after hitting none with LA in 5 months.

From 1986 to 1990, Reynolds filled in wherever needed for Pittsburgh. In '86, he flanked CF Barry Bonds in left; when Bonds moved to left in 1987, R.J. moved to right. From 1987 to 1990, he stole 63 bases in 73 tries, an amazing 86.3% success rate. During that time Reynolds mostly played right with Bonds and Andy Van Slyke in left and center, as numerous players came and went to split time with Reynolds - Darnell Coles, Mike Diaz, Gary Redus and Glenn Wilson. In 1990, Bobby Bonilla moved to right, sending R.J. to a reduced role off the bench. His power deserted him, going from mid-range levels to no homers in '90, and he finished his MLB career that season. R.J. had a box-top hairstyle briefly late in his Pirates career.

[edit] Japan

In 1991, Reynolds signed with the Taiyo Whales of the Japanese Central League. R.J. got new life, hitting .316/.366/.479 with 29 doubles, 15 homers, 80 RBI and 17 steals. He won a Gold Glove and set a Nippon Pro Baseball record with hits in 11 straight at-bats; the record would be tied in 2003 by Yoshinobu Takahashi. The Central League part of the record had been held previously by Chuck Manuel. Reynolds was named to the Best Nine team that year. He was 5th in the Central League in batting that year, posting the highest mark by a gaijin player.

'92 saw a serious drop in Reynolds' play, as he hit .248/.313/.419, albeit with 19 homers, his highest in any given league-season. Taiyo (to be renamed the Yokohama Bay Stars between seasons) let Reynolds go and signed Bobby Rose to fill his slot, a good decision in retrospect. In 1993, Reynolds signed with the Kintetsu Buffaloes of the Pacific League and put up a good year, .298/.353/.524. It wasn't good enough for Kintetsu, which let him go in the off-season.

[edit] Mexico

In 1994, Reynolds signed with the Yucatan Lions of the Mexican League and did an okay job - .287/.363/.353 - as in Japan, the team expected more for a foreign player and Reynolds' Mexican League career ended after one season. His speed was gone (just 4 of 8 in steals in '94) and Reynolds retired.

[edit] Year-By-Year Minor League Managerial Record

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs
2000 Bristol White Sox Appalachian League 34-33 5th Chicago White Sox

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