Walking back into a top-ranked team two weeks before opening day can present its own special set of challenges when you haven’t so much as taken batting practice in six months.
One of them, as Chris Reid found out, is an outdated key card combined with a locked door.
Reinstated on Friday, the senior infielder officially rejoined LSU for practice on Saturday morning. He just needed to call ops director Nate Fury first for an assist getting let into the locker room door.
“I was probably like the third or fourth one here this morning,” Reid laughs, “and I got locked out because my card doesn’t work. Had to text Nate to come open up the door. That was the first hurdle I had to get through, the actual door.”
Reid admits he was a bit confused when Antoine Duplantis called him recently. Reid was working with one of the two youth teams he helps coach, his own way of staying close to the game he loves, when Duplantis relayed that Paul Mainieri was looking to meet with him.
It was a phone call from Mainieri back in August that broke Reid’s heart. Instead of returning for his senior season the Baton Rouge native was essentially set adrift. He played basketball to stay in shape and coached to stay connected to the game, but he figured his playing days were over.
Mainieri admittedly publicly that he made a mistake sending Reid packing as a 35-man roster cap casualty.
“It broke my heart to a degree because I’d given everything I had to the university for three years,” Reid said. “To get that call, it hurt a lot, but Coach Mainieri was heartfelt when we met on Wednesday. He apologized and admitted he made a mistake. That helped me open up to the forgiveness part of it.
“We got past that so here we are now. I’ve got no ill feelings toward Coach. We’re good now.”
There’s a lot of work ahead of Reid to play his way back into shape by Feb. 15, but he was as confident as his coach that he can make a positive impact.
According to Reid, Mainieri sited his leadership and clubhouse presence as the biggest reason for wanting him back in the fold. Of course he also provides a reliable glove on the left side of the infield who can put together a “professional” at-bat when called upon.
“My presence was a big thing for him and my leadership skills,” Reid said. “The second part was my playing ability. Not going to lie to you, there’s always been guys on the team that’re more athletic than me.”
Once Reid got in the door, there were a host of veteran teammates like Zach Watson and Daniel Cabrera waiting to greet him with a proper hero’s welcome.
“They were so happy I was back,” Reid said. “That, to me, is one of the big reasons I came back. Those are my guys. Those are my teammates. You have a different bond with guys like that, so when I got the call and they said they needed me, it was hard to turn them down.”