Reynolds keys on hunting, hurling and safety

Shane Reynolds 

Injuries are to sports as fender benders are to driving; they come with the territory.

Less expected are injuries in the offseason.

So when third baseman Ken Caminiti was seriously hurt in a hunting accident two years ago, fellow hunter and former teammate Shane Reynolds of the Houston Astros took it to heart.

"I think safety it is No. 1, especially in my sport; you get hurt, you can't do your job," Reynolds, 33, said during a recent interview with ESPN Outdoors. "I think it is very important that we think about safety first."

The right-handed pitcher gets the starting assignment tonight in Atlanta against the Braves in Game 3 of the National League Division Series. The Astros are down 2 games to none. The team's hopes are pinned on Reynolds, a 10-year veteran who has played his entire career in Houston and was selected to the National League All-Star team for the first time last season.

Reynolds talks more about hunting safety, injuries, family and his passion for the outdoors in our latest Athletes in the Outdoors profile:

ESPN Outdoors: "When you heard the announcement that you were selected as an All-Star, what did that feel like?"

Shane Reynolds: "Surprising, I guess. For three years, I had 10 wins at the (All-Star) break — just as much as anyone else — and just didn't make it; there was somebody else they voted in, so they had enough. It's an honor, no doubt, and I think there are a lot of real good, successful players that don't get to make it. I wish that everyone got a chance to make it because it was real special, and I really enjoyed it."

EO: "Your bio states that you had some degenerative disc problems in your lower back?"

SR: "I have four bad discs actually, two that are bulging and two that are dry, which mean they don't have any fluid in between, so, basically, it is bone-on-bone. So I have to watch the exercises I do and stay away from the heavier weights and just don't let them get inflamed. When my back gets inflamed and the bone spurs hit the nerve, that's when it hurts. But if I stay away from heavy stuff, I should be OK … knock on wood."

EO: "Has that affected your hunting?"

SR: "No. In the offseason I do a lot of hunting in November and December, and that is when I'm taking a lot of time off from the season, and I'm able to go full bore."

EO: "I'm sure you have some concerns about how your back might impact your hunting in the future."

SR: "Yea, that is a big concern, although it is secondary. Baseball is No. 1, and I think it is my priority. I do love hunting, I grew up hunting. I hunted all my life, especially being in South Texas, since I live near Houston (in Sugar Land, Texas). Deer hunting is unbelievable here, and I'd hate to think about missing that during the offseason."

EO: "Do you have plans on turning your kids (Lauren, 6, and Ryan, 3) on to hunting?"

SR: "I think it is good if my son wants to. Yea, I'll take him and teach him, especially the safety of holding his gun and stuff like that. I'd love to go with my son; I hunted with my dad when I was a kid, so hopefully my son would want to do that. But I won't force it on him."

EO: "But, what about your daughter?"

SR: "I guess if she wants to go, but I don't know if her momma will let her."

EO: "Do you get any grief from your wife (Pam) for hunting?"

SR: "No, she knows that it is passion of mine and she is OK with it."

EO: "We talked a little about safety. Were you with the Astros when Ken Caminiti took a fall out of a tree stand? (Caminiti, now with the Braves, suffered three fractures in his lower back after falling from a deer blind in October 1999.) And, does that impress upon you that hunting can be dangerous?"

SR: "Sure, hunting can be dangerous. A lot of the times it is where you are at, either public land or private land. That is why I always stay in private property, just because if you don't know the other people that you are hunting with that can be real dangerous. Hunting in tree stands — some people call them shooting houses — climbing up and down in the dark, you can slip and fall; it can be dangerous. I think Cami was real lucky in being able to get over that."

EO: "Did you talk to him right afterwards — from one hunter to another?"

SR: "Yeah, I went to the hospital and saw him. It's a freak accident, a turn and a slip. You just have to be very careful, and I think it made him more aware of being safe."

EO: "I just edited a story on the startling impacts of people falling out of tree stands. Is safety a high priority on your list when hunting?"

SR: "Yeah, I think safety it is No. 1, especially in my sport; you get hurt, you can't do your job. I think it is very important that we think about safety first."

EO: "What do you consider your specialty in the field?"

SR: "Deer hunting. Love to bowhunt, rifle hunt; just whitetail in general. I also duck hunt, quail hunt, pheasant or whatever. But 90 percent of it is whitetail."

EO: "What makes whitetail so special?"

SR: "I think it is that they are very smart, with a keen sense of smell and sight, as far as you moving toward them. They are aware. It is hard to kill one bowhunting; people don't understand that you have to be within 30 yards. Out in the wild, in their territory, the wind has to be perfect; it is really hard to do. People don't understand it until they try it. That is what I like about it."

EO: "How many whitetails have you bagged with a bow?"

SR: "Maybe 10."

EO: "Do you consider yourself lucky, or is it skill?"

SR: "Both, to be honest with you. You have to be in the right place at the right time, which depends on you doing some scouting and looking before the season opens. I think it is about half luck and half skill."

EO: "Who taught you how to bowhunt?"

SR: "I really didn't start bow hunting until six or seven years ago. Just watching videos and reading magazines."

EO: "Would you recommend literature to new bowhunters?"

SR: "Yea, I think so. If anyone has hunted with a rifle and knows the aspects of hunting, I recommend it. But, if you never have, you can really learn a lot."

EO: "What is in your personal background that drew you to the outdoors?"

SR: "Just living in the country. I grew up in Northeast Louisiana (born in Bastrop, La., in 1968), in the country on a farm, and I just always loved the outdoors better than anything else."

EO: "Did you do any fishing while you were in Japan (in 1996) for the MLB Japan All-Star tour?"

SR: "Didn't have time. I did nothing but play ball and sleep. That was an action-packed tour. Every hour and every minute of every day was filled with something, so we didn't have that much free time."

EO: "So do you lead up any community projects that involve hunting?"

SR: "No, I am in a celebrity golf tournament every year; it benefits the Epilepsy Foundation. They send (those afflicted) to a camp, and they get to go outdoors and have fun."

EO: "Are you a superstitious person?"

SR: "I'm very superstitious as far as baseball is concerned. But when baseball stops, so does that."

EO: "What is your biggest trophy buck?"

SR: "I got a 161 (scored on the Boone & Crockett scale) this year, by rifle."

EO: "Do you talk hunting with other teammates?"

SR: "All the time. I don't know, I guess at the end of the season. it is very addicting. We love it; a lot of the guys on the team come hunting with me. We go to a couple different places. We enjoy it, and it is creates good memories."

See Shane Reynolds' player profile on ESPN.com's MLB pages.