Reed's true home is centrally located
Intense approach helps outfielder adjust defensively in platoon
SEATTLE -- Jeremy Reed might not have been born to be a center fielder, but he feels more at home in the middle of the Mariners outfield than anywhere else on the field."I wouldn't say that's my position, but I feel more comfortable there because I have been there the most in my career," he said on Friday prior to the Mariners' Fourth of July game against the Tigers at Safeco Field. "I like it out there." The 27-year-old left-handed hitter currently shares the position with right-handed-hitting Willie Bloomquist, a combination that has been working well since former manager John McLaren switched Ichiro Suzuki back to right field in mid-June. Since June 15, Reed is 13-for-40 (.325) with six RBIs and Bloomquist is 15-for-40 (.375) with four RBIs. Coming into Friday's action, neither has made an error, contributing some stellar defensive plays along the way. The catch Bloomquist made against the Mets on June 25 that robbed Luis Castillo of extra bases was highlight-reel material, as was the diving catch Reed made in the second inning Thursday night, robbing Tigers designated hitter Gary Sheffield of a single in shallow center field. It was just the latest web gem Reed has made during an MLB career that was rudely interrupted two years ago when he broke his right thumb while diving for a ball into the right-center-field gap during an Interleague game against the Rockies. The injury, which occurred in the 11th inning on July 3 at Safeco Field, cost Reed the remainder of the season as he underwent surgery to insert a metal plate to stabilize the fracture. But he hasn't become defensive on defense. "It's not something I ever even think about," he said, when asked about the dangers of diving for balls. "Injuries happen for a reason, and when you play hard, you're going to get injured at some point or another anyway. It's the only way I know how to play." Reed finally returned to action during the Arizona Instructional League in October 2006, but by the time he was completely healthy again, Ichiro had been moved to center field, and Reed spent the '07 season with Triple-A Tacoma, where he batted .300 with 13 home runs and 64 RBIs, earning a September promotion to the Mariners. Reed saw limited action with Seattle, going 3-for-17 during the final month of the '07 season, and reported to Spring Training in Peoria, Ariz., with little chance of earning a spot on Seattle's 25-man Opening Day roster. Sure enough, it was back to Tacoma for the start of the '08 season and thanks to a .349 batting average, six home runs and 31 RBIs, he was recalled to the Mariners on May 19. He again was used sparingly, going 4-for-19 (.211) in May, but found his stroke in June, batting .333 (20-for-60) with one home run and seven RBIs. The home run he hit against the Tigers on May 31 at Safeco Field was his first in the Major Leagues since June 28, 2006.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.