Kevin McReynolds has got to be healthy this season. That's it. End of conversation.
Never mind that broken wrist. It's not broken now. Kevin healed it over the winter, back in Little Rock, Ark., where he got to hunt less than he wanted to because that rickety left hand wouldn't balance the gun very well.
And don't look just now, while he's taking his cuts in the spring practice batting cage. So, it's not exactly the swing of old, so what? Give him a few weeks. He'll get it back.
That's the way it has to be. Kevin'll tell you.
"It's coming along slowly, but believe me, it's coming," says McReynolds, who did just about everything the San Diego Padres could have asked of him in 1984, his first full season in the major leagues. "I'll be there on opening day."
McReynolds has gotten off to a good start in spring training, batting .280 while appearing in 14 exhibition games through Wednesday. He has 14 hits in 50 at bats, including a double, a triple and a home run.
Last season, McReynolds hit .278, belted 20 home runs, drove in 75 runs and committed only four errors in 147 games as the Padres' starting center fielder. San Diego won the National League West Division, then beat Chicago in the NL Championship Series to advance to the World Series, where it lost to Detroit.
His power was the most prominent on display in San Diego, where the Padres were not renown for their offensive tenacity.
But, that wrist. McReynolds broke the cappel navicular bone in his left hand while sliding in Game 4 of the series with the Cubs. He was trying to break up a double play.
"I went into my slide, and my hand went down to break my fall, and that was it," he says, matter-of-factly. "Just snapped it. I didn't even know it at the time."
He knew soon enough, when the wrist swelled to about twice its normal size. McReynolds watched Game 5, and the Padres' unspectacular World Series against the Tigers, from the friendly confines of the team's bench.
It was as excruciating as the pain in his hand. His replacement, Bobby Brown, managed only one hit in 15 at-bats against the Tigers, and struck out four times.
"That was a tough time," said McReynolds, whose wrist was in a cast for several weeks. "I hated to be sitting on the bench, but there's just nothing you can do about something like that except let your injury heal."