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Rookie Reynolds an Unanticipated Hit for the Pirates

The Bucs have stayed afloat through the first third of their season despite a myriad of injuries. An outfielder they received in the Andrew McCutchen trade has contributed mightily toward that end and might be just getting started.

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After winning their series finale in Cincinnati, the Pirates returned home for a four-game series with the Brewers back at .500 at 27-27 and with one-third of their season officially behind them.

It could be worse.

It probably should be worse given the frequency with which Pirates players in general and Pirates pitchers in particular have ended up on the injured list.

It’s been ugly at times.

At others, it’s merely been a grind.

But the Pirates have managed to at least survive, if not thrive, thanks to some unanticipated contributions from some unlikely sources.

Outfielder Bryan Reynolds tops the list in both categories.

He’s been playing, in part, because outfielder Corey Dickerson hasn’t since April 3.

The remarkable part is Reynolds has been so productive and so polished Dickerson hasn’t really been missed.

And heading into the season, Dickerson was viewed as critical to any success the Pirates might enjoy.

Consider Reynolds’ 2-for-4 performance in Wednesday afternoon’s series final in Cincinnati.

It included an RBI-single to the opposite field over a drawn-in infield, just the way an accomplished pro with an appreciation of the game and the situation would have done it.

Reynolds’ well-placed stroke upped the Pirates’ lead to 4-0 in the seventh inning of a game they’d win 7-2, and drew the following on-air response from AT&T Sportsnet color analyst Bob Walk:

“I don’t know who Reynolds played for as a young kid, but they taught him how to play the game. He was taught the right way to play.”

That’s something that could be said of Dickerson, but not many other veteran Buccos.

And it’s about the highest possible praise that could be bestowed upon a 24-year-old rookie playing in his 34th major league game.

So is this from MLB Network analyst Sean Casey:

“He hits .300 everywhere he goes, just truly a gap-to-gap player, and he’s starting to drive the ball out of the ballpark, too. Doesn’t strike out a lot, that’s a great pickup for them. What a steady bat he’s been.”

Reynolds, a former second-round pick of the Giants, came to the Pirates along with reliever Kyle Crick for outfielder Andrew McCutchen in January of 2018.

Reynolds’ resume at that juncture had included three .300 seasons at Vanderbilt (.338, .313 and .330), a .313 average in 2016 in Class A and a .312 effort in 2017 in A-ball.

Following the trade, Reynolds hit .302 in 2018 at Class AA Altoona and .367 this season at Triple-A Indianapolis before being summoned by the Pirates.

He wouldn’t be playing in Pittsburgh if not for all the injuries, so the “unanticipated” aspect of what he’s done for the Bucs still applies.

But with each passing game the five home runs, 17 RBI and .333 average Reynolds amassed through his first 34 looks more legit than unlikely.

So the Pirates have that going for them, which is nice.

It might yet be critical to any success the Pirates are destined to achieve.

“He’s going to hit, man,” Casey insisted of Reynolds. “This is not a fluke. This guy could hit in the minors, hit at Vanderbilt and he’s going to hit in the big leagues.”

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