By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun
9:31 PM EDT, June 28, 2011
Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold is plenty aware of his situation: He is the lone right-handed hitter in a crowded left-field picture, meaning he's on the wrong end of a platoon.
So when the Orioles face a string of right-handed starters — as they are now — Reimold is relegated to the bench as lefties Luke Scott or Felix Pie play.
"This is the first time I haven't played [consistently as a pro], but I understand the situation, and we've got a lot of guys that need to get at-bats," said Reimold, who is hitting .261 with a .375 on-base percentage in 46 at-bats in 2011. "So I've just got to keep working hard and wait for my time, which I am sure will come. And when it does, I'll be ready to go."
Reimold hasn't started a game since June 19 in Washington and has played just once since — June 22 as a defensive replacement. And it might not get much better for him. The next five projected opposing starters are right-handed, meaning he likely won't start through the Atlanta Braves series, which ends Sunday.
"It's been a challenge," manager Buck Showalter said about finding at-bats for Reimold. "We keep hoping that Luke can get it going. We went through a period where there were a lot of left-handed pitchers, so it was pretty easy. We are going through a period now where it is just the opposite. It's something that, on my list of things that kind of bug me, that's one of them."
Reimold, 27, was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on May 20 after hitting just .237 in 39 games for the Tides. Reimold, who was one of the club's brightest spots in 2009 but struggled in 2010, got a chance to play immediately after his recall this year. He started 14 of 22 games from May 21 to June 15 before the club began its steady diet of opposing right-handers.
"He has worked hard at it, and he understands he was not exactly tearing it up statistically in Triple-A, but he was toward the end of that call-up," Showalter said. "[That's] one of the reasons we thought we were catching him on the upswing, and he came up here and did some good things initially. And it is tough to maintain that."
Last week, the Orioles demoted infielder Ryan Adams to Norfolk because he wasn't playing much at the big league level and they wanted him to get regular playing time. Reimold, however, isn't a wide-eyed rookie; he had 143 major league games on his resume before this season.
"I think it is two different things because Ryan had never been here and we wanted to get [him] some exposure and get an idea of what's going on, where Nolan kind of gets the jump in the level of play," Showalter said. "I don't think that is as much of a factor. And the options to replace him aren't as plentiful, so to speak. But I like having Nolan on my team and the contributions he can make."
If it were up to Reimold, he would choose staying in the majors, even if he isn't playing regularly.
"The advantage [at Triple-A] is you are playing every day, but the ultimate goal is to get up here to the big leagues and help the big league team win," he said. "Obviously, I feel when I do get in there, I can help the team win."
Simon likely to be activated
Right-hander Alfredo Simon (strained right hamstring) didn't come off the disabled list Tuesday, the first day he was eligible, but likely will be activated Wednesday.
Showalter said Simon was in Frederick on Tuesday and could pitch for the Single-A Keys on Wednesday, but "I'd say that [it] is more likely than less likely that he is activated tomorrow."
In his one rehabilitation stint, Simon threw two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out three for Double-A Bowie on Sunday. It's possible that when Simon (1-1, 3.14 ERA) returns, he will be used more as a middle-innings bridge instead of the long-relief role he assumed before his injury. The Orioles have been lacking a quality reliever to use between the starter and Jim Johnson and Koji Uehara.
"A lot depends on how the starting pitching does," Showalter said. "The need for that guy … has been more out there because we really haven't been able to get to that sixth or seventh inning with our starter. That's a need that we have, and [if] he could serve it, it would help."
Showalter would not confirm whether the Orioles would demote another reliever when Simon comes back. If they do, Brad Bergesen, Clay Rapada or Jason Berken would be the most likely candidates.
Guerrero staying at cleanup
Showalter acknowledged Tuesday that he has some concern about designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero, who has struggled to drive in runs as the club's cleanup hitter. Heading into Tuesday, Guerrero was batting .282 but had just six homers and 28 RBIs and was 14-for-60 (.233 average) with runners in scoring position.
"Yeah, yeah, there is [concern]. But Vlady, we all know he's not conventional, and you keep trying to trust that, if there's such a thing — trusting unconventionality," Showalter said. "But if we have to make an adjustment at some point, we will. We'll see how it goes between now and the All-Star break."
In his first at-bat Tuesday, Guerrero ended the first inning with a grounder to first base while Nick Markakis was on third.
Around the horn
With a RBI double in the first, Markakis tied his career high with a 17-game hitting streak. He has hit in 17 consecutive games two other times in his career. … Rookie Mark Hamilton, who was the Cardinals' designated hitter Tuesday night, was born in Baltimore and lived in Lutherville until his family moved to Texas when he was 12. As a kid, he played baseball in the Lutherville-Timonium Recreation Council Little League. … Bowie placed infielder Billy Rowell, the club's 2006 first-round pick, on the disabled list with a left ankle sprain. Rowell, 22, was hitting .227 in 41 games for the Baysox this season with two doubles and 11 RBIs. This is his second trip to the DL this season with an ankle injury. … The Orioles have signed Georgia high school outfielder Jalen Simmons, their 24th-round pick. They have agreed to terms with 12 of their 50 draft picks, including five of their top 10.
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