Monday, August 01, 2016

Reynolds, Sermo Capitalize On New Opportunities

Fortunes can change quickly in Independent Baseball.  Just ask Matt Reynolds and Jose Sermo, both enjoying triumphant returns to major league organizations.

From Lancaster to SF Giants in a Month

Matt Reynolds suddenly finds himself involved in the National League West pennant chase only a month and a few days removed from the Lancaster (PA) Barnstormers' bullpen in the Atlantic League.  The 31-year-old southpaw had relieved in 213 major league games for Colorado and Arizona between 2010 and 2015 when he suddenly found himself needing a new opportunity after the Diamondbacks released him in the last week of spring training.

"It's kind of been an interesting journey," the 6-foot-5 hurler admitted to, shortly after being promoted from Triple-A to the San Francisco Giants, for whom he made two appearances (1.0, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout) over the weekend during their series against another division leader, Washington.  "I certainly wasn't expecting any of this."

Reynolds described his time with Lancaster, which only ended after a June 21 appearance, as a "fun opportunity", and the onetime Austin Peay starter shared one funny experience during his time with the Barnstormers, which included 26 relief outings and 32 strikeouts in 22 Atlantic League innings (1-0, 1.63).  He was getting ready to warm up for his first appearance, he told, when teammates told him to slow it up because the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs do a mid-game fireworks show.  “I was a little shocked and blown away,” he mused.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy says he plans to use Reynolds as a situational reliever for now.

Three-Homer Game Launches Sermo

Jose Sermo played half of last season and 29 games earlier in '16 with Gary, IN of the American Association before Boston purchased the infielder's contract and gave him a second opportunity in affiliated baseball following three years in the Milwaukee farm system.

He had shown some power early this summer at Gary, whacking five homers while hitting .311 with a sparkling .425 on-base percentage and 24 runs driven in.  Sermo admits things were not going that good for Salem, VA in the Carolina League until last Tuesday (July 26) when the switch-hitter recorded his first three-homer game.  He hit two right-handed and the last one as a lefty.

"I was struggling a little bit, but I kind of tried to relax," Sermo told  "(Coach Angel) Berroa was talking to me like 'just relax.  You look like you just want to hit already and you're not even close to being in the box.  Just relax.'"  Berroa may have been thinking back to when he was a star in the Independent game himself, mainly for Bridgeport, CT of the Atlantic League, where his number has been retired.

Sermo, 25, has been hot since that night, going 8-for-18 to lift his season average (29 games) to .245.

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