Mikey Can’t Wait for Opener - Sussex County Miners
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Mikey Can’t Wait for Opener

Mikey Can’t Wait for Opener

 

Talk to Mikey Reynolds for five minutes and you know that he would play baseball in his sleep if he could. He’d play somewhere all summer, then he’d play somewhere else all winter. He’d play infield, he’d play outfield. 

     He probably will play both infield and outfield this year for the Miners, who open the 2022 home season with a weekend series hosting the Frontier League champion Schaumburg Boomers beginning May 13.

     The visitors will be travelling 790 miles from a Chicago suburb for a first-ever visit to Skylands Stadium – a Friday night opener, a Saturday night 6 p.m. fireworks night and a Sunday afternoon conclusion.

     Reynolds might be batting first or he might be batting last. Maybe infield, maybe outfield. Maybe in the dugout as a late-inning pinch hitter. 

     “I like this role,” said Reynolds, here in town early for pre-season training camp that begins at Skylands on May 3.

     “I might be the last name written into the lineup. Wherever I’m needed that night, I’ll be ready to go.”

     And he’ll be a welcome and familiar sight for Miners fans who will remember him as a key ingredient from the 2018 and 2019 squads that both played for Can-Am League championships.

     In fact, the last time Reynolds was in a Sussex uniform, he was batting .429 in the 2019 playoffs. But, the 31-year old from Arizona was quick to forget that postseason since the team lost in the final round.

     His best memories of his two years here come from 2018, when he played in 98 games, batted third most nights and hit .335 with 45 stolen bases to help lead the Miners to the league title.

     “Winning that championship was the best feeling ever,” he said. “That’s what you play for, to win a championship.

     “I love the game of baseball, always have, always will. I love everything about it, but mainly I love to win. Playing as a team, winning as a team is unbelievably rewarding.”

     The Miners will benefit even more this year from Reynolds’ team-first attitude as he’s adding responsibilities as a player-coach under manager Bobby Jones.

     “I’ve got some experience behind me at this point,” he said. “I think I’ve learned a lot along the way and if I can help a young guy get better in any way, that’s what I want to do.”

     He’s also thinking about coaching or managing in the future. Or maybe working in a front office. As long as it’s baseball.

     He was an Atlanta Braves’ fifth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M University in 2013 and he hasn’t left the field since, playing coast to coast in affiliated and independent leagues, then playing in Australia and Central America during the offseason. He arrived here in Augusta recently straight from playing in Panama.

     He’s played minor-league ball for the Braves, the Cardinals and, last year, for the Diamondbacks’ Double-A team in Texas, the Amarillo Sod Poodles. In indy ball, he’s played in the American Association and the Atlantic League. Even when Covid shut down most of the sport in 2020, he hooked on with one of the few teams still operating, the legendary St. Paul Saints.

     Here at Skylands in 2018, he played mostly second base, but also shortstop and third base. In 2019, he spent most of his time in the outfield while also moving back to the infield now and then.

    “That was the first time I ever played outfield,” he said. “I really enjoyed it. After all those years in the infield, it was fun to learn something new. Now, I feel confident at any position.”

     Growing up in the dessert sun of Glendale, his two sports were baseball and golf, and when he gets back there these days, he can always find freelance work as a crew member at one of the biggest hot-air balloon companies in America.

     After his first two seasons with the Braves, he could played independent ball anywhere, but he chose to come east and play in York, PA. Why? To enjoy his favorite food to this day – a Phillly cheesesteak.

     At the moment, however, there’s only one thing on Reynolds’ mind:

     “I want to get back on the field,” he said. “Just let me get back on the field. I can’t wait to win that first game.”

By Carl Barbati, former sports editor of the New Jersey Herald, Daily Record and The Trentonian.