Written by Tony Pente
At 29-years old, Nolan Reimold is facing a make or break year in the major leagues. Since breaking into the majors in 2009, Reimold has teased the Orioles with some nice production at times, but he's mainly known for his struggles to stay healthy.
Last season the six-foot-four outfielder looked to be poised for a breakout season as the everyday left fielder when he hit .313 with a .960 OPS through the first 16 games. But tingling in his thumb and forearm and weakness in his left shoulder led the Orioles to place him on the disabled list on April 30 and after epidural injections didn't work, he underwent surgery for a herniated disk in his neck in June.
It was a slow healing process but Reimold has already swung off live pitching and has been a full-go so far this spring. For the Orioles part, they don't have any plans on him trying first base again and with Nate McClouth on the roster, the chances of him playing often in the outfield seem remote, so he should only have to worry about hitting the ball as a DH.
What can the Orioles expect? Well, your guess is as good as mine, but if Reimold's hot start to 2012 are any indication, the Orioles could have a nice bat to add to the lneup.
How good? Well, before you start talking impact bat, let's remember that Reimold has a career .794 OPS with just a .774 career OPS against left-handers, so he really doesn't specialize in hitting them. Some folks have talked about Reimold being a good OBP guy and even a possibility at the top of the lineup, but in his last 505 PAs since 2010, he has a .317 OBP and even last year when he was "breaking out", he only had a .333 OBP.
Reimold sees about league average pitches per plate appearance in his career (3.89 vs 3.82 LG AVG) but that fell to 3.45 last year as he seemed to be a little more aggressive than in years past drawing just two walks to 14 strike outs.
Reimold will probably get an opportunity to be the everyday DH although Wilson Betemit will get his shares of ABs against good right-handers. Thre are still questions as to whether Reimold can regain his previous strength less than a year away from surgery, but only playing effectively everyday in spring training will quell those concerns.
The Orioles are hopeful Reimold will be an effective player once again, but Russ Canzler, Steve Pearce, Trayvon Robinson and Danny Valencia have been brought in to provide right-handed hitting depth if something should happen to Reimold once again.
Afterall, how may 29-year old players with 916 major league plate appearances coming off a neck surgery have become impact bats in the major leagues? Hopefully Reimold can buck the odds.
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