Mar 12, 2014; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles dh Nolan Reimold (14) celebrates with Baltimore Orioles catcher Steve Clevenger (45) after hitting a home run in the fifth inning of the spring training exhibition game against Philadelphia Phillies at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: an Upside-Down Day in Sarasota


This past Friday, Ubaldo Jimenez threw two perfect innings against the Phillies, while A.J. Burnett got tagged for six runs on seven hits in his three innings against the Baltimore Orioles.

But Wednesday saw a total reversal in fortunes. It was Jimenez who struggled from the start, giving up four runs in two innings – three of them in the top of the first on 37 pitches. Burnett was far from lights out, but he only gave up three hits in the first four innings before starting the fifth by allowing a walk and homer.

Jimenez spoke of the newness of pitching from the stretch as the basis for his struggles. “It was a tough day,” he said. “The first time I got to pitch from the stretch in a game and it got the best of me. I couldn’t find a good release. That was after the leadoff guy got on base right away, so it was a little bit tough to get in a good rhythm.”

Another reversal in fortune was seen with Nolan Reimold. Serving as the DH, Reimold was two for three, including the two-run homer in the fifth off Burnett. He also hit a screaming line-drive that was turned into a double play.

Showalter said of Reimold, “After the breaking-ball base hit over at Pirate City, he’s looking more “hitterish” each at-bat, so that’s good to see. I thought he had a lot of good at-bats today. He squared up a couple. I thought the line drive to third base was a better at-bat than the home run.”

There was originally a plan to send Reimold to the minor league camp in order to DH and get a higher number of at-bats under his belt, as the left fielder continues to get his muscle memory and timing back together since his multiple health adventures. That will likely happen today instead.

Reimold is surely both on the clock and on the bubble. Time is running out for a decision that will impact him and the Orioles … and some others as well in the logjam that is the Orioles’ options for the outfield. Speaking of options, Reimold is out of them; and he would not likely clear waivers if DFA-ed. The others immediately impacted by this conundrum are Delmon Young and Quintin Berry. Only two of the three can be kept along with Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz and David Lough.

Prior to yesterday, Reimold was merely 3 for 14, with two of those hits being of the infield variety. Nolan needs to keep stroking the ball. There are not many guys with 30+ HR potential who can run like this guy, but …  … Everyone who follows the Orioles knows the rest of the sentence that comes after the “but…”

If I had one wish to be granted for one player, I would use it for Nolan. I just don’t see the at-bats available for him to succeed in Baltimore, and I believe he is one who needs to play daily, including in the field, to be at the top of his game. It pains me to write that and face what looks to be his reality, as I have often been one of the last people on the bus with him and still identified as in his corner.

Steve Johnson had two good innings with only one hit allowed. This spring he has had three good outings in his four appearances. In seven total innings he has only thrown 44 pitches, with 36 being strikes. Wouldn’t it be great to have that sort of pitch count from Orioles starters? But with the number of options the O’s have among pitchers, and with Johnson having an option, he will surely be starting for the Tides at this time next month.

Eduardo Rodriguez pitched another couple of difficult innings in his last experience-gaining appearance before being sent to the minor league camp. He will likely be spending at least the first portion of the season with my pitching coach friend Blaine Beatty in Bowie. And as I’ve written previously, this may be a good place for his baseball idol and fellow countryman Johan Santana to work back into form.

Also assigned to minor league camp were Brock Huntzinger and Ivan De Jesus. All the cuts and assignments so far have been simple ones to make. More difficult decisions are coming just down the road, which is why unusual numbers of scouts are at all Orioles games like vultures circling overhead. The change of culture for the Orioles is evident by something as simple as this occurrence.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Nolan Reimold Steve Johnson Ubaldo Jimenez

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