On last night’s installment of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Report on MASN, Amber Theoharis, Dave Johnson, and Phil Wood
brought up the issue of Nolan Reimold playing left field for the Orioles. All three analysts seemed to agree that this was the time for Reimold to step up and either claim or surrender the left field position in Baltimore. I couldn’t agree more. The issue of course is whether or not he’s given the opportunity to do so. While my gut feeling is that he will be, the Orioles and Buck Showalter have been somewhat mum on the issue of left field. With regard to some positions it’s been made very simple; if Brian Roberts can’t play second Robert Andino will slide into that role. However aside from Showalter saying that he was “rooting” for Reimold, we haven’t really been told for sure that this is his time.
In his rookie season (2009) Reimold played in 104 games d hit .279 with 15 HR’s and 45 RBI. He also had an OBP of .365, which would fit nicely with what the Orioles are trying to do this season. However he was sidelined towards the end of the season by an Achilles problem that required surgery, and he was never able to regain his form in 2010 when he only appeared in 39 games for the O’s. He spent most of the season in Norfolk before coming up in September. Last season Reimold appeared in 87 games with the O’s, although he did spend some significant time in Norfolk as well. He batted .247 with 13 HR’s. Reimold is a career .256 hitter with an OBP of .339.
I agree with Theoharis, Johnson, and Wood in that this is the time for Reimold. However Dave Johnson (a former major leaguer with the Orioles himself) brought up a very valid point; assuming he’s given the chance, Reimold can’t go out there assuming that his career hinges on every at-bat and every play in the field. Ironically that might well be the case, however it’s similar to playing a prevent defense in football. NFL Hall of Famer Sam Huff says that “the prevent defense PREVENTS you from winning.” Ultimately if you play “not to lose” you come across as tentative and you tighten up. One has to wonder if that hasn’t been part of the Orioles problem the past few years in general, but that’s another column for another day. Assuming that he’s given the chance to start in left field, Reimold should go out there and in essence throw caution to the wind while on the field. I’m not saying that he should hack at bad pitches or anything along those lines, but you can’t be tentative and play this game. If you see the pitch you want, swing at it! At the very least it gives you a fighting chance as opposed to letting it go by. You never want to go down looking in baseball (or in life).
While Showalter hasn’t committed to anything, as I said above I do believe that Reimold will get his shot this year as the starting left fielder. According to Phil Wood, the Orioles did in fact have inquiries about Reimold in trades this off season. The fact that they opted not to deal him should tell us something. I do think that he’s better than his 2011 average of .247; he had 13 homers in 87 games, so if you spread that out over 140-150 games you have a guy that’s hitting 25 HR’s or so a year (give or take). That’s power with which the Birds could probably deal in their lineup! My personal prediction is that Reimold will be starting in left field next Monday night in spring training game one against Pittsburgh. Furthermore, I think we’ll see him with the starters through most of the exhibition season. That would put him potentially in left field at Camden Yards on April 6th, as well as beyond. Give the kid a chance, and let’s see what he can do!
Follow me on Twitter @Domenic Vadala