While most players don't acknowledge being affected when they're the target of fan angst, Orioles reliever Pedro Strop admitted Thursday that he was bothered by the loud chorus of boos he received as he walked off the mound during Wednesday's 9-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Strop entered with two on and no outs in a 4-2 game in the seventh inning, and he allowed a season-high four runs before being pulled after retiring just one of the five hitters he faced.
"I heard it when I was walking from the mound," Strop said. "Booing somebody like that — I was giving everything I've got to help the team win and to give a good show. … They don't care about players. They care about good results."
Strop is the first to admit he is struggling, but he said he was surprised to be booed so loudly at home.
"It's not a big deal," said Strop, who turned 28 on Thursday. "I know they just want to see good results, but at the same time, they don't know what it takes, what hard work and dedication it takes to perform well. So that's why they boo, because they don't know."
Strop, who was a major part of the Orioles' stellar bullpen last year, has struggled this season from the start. He's allowed multiple runs in three of his past four outings, including two before he went on the disabled list with a lower back strain. This season, Strop has allowed seven of 13 inherited runners to score.
"You could take every guy down our bullpen and I'll show you a point where people didn't feel — not us — the results weren't there," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "[Strop] loves the Orioles, he loves winning and he wants to be a part of that and he gets frustrated when it doesn't all work out that way."
Strop said he's physically fine. And he said he doesn't think pitching in six high-pressure games for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic in March has had a carry-over effect.
He's struggled to locate his slider — which was a successful out pitch for him in 2012 — making it easier for hitters to sit on his fastball and sinker, especially when he falls behind in the count. He's added a splitter — a pitch he didn't throw often last season — to help keep batters off balance, but he's had mixed results.
"You just have to trust in yourself, because it's hard to trust when things aren't going good," Strop said. "It's hard to trust, but you've got to find a way to bring it, and that's what it takes. When somebody's struggling, you can talk about mechanics and whatever, but it's the way you think. It takes everything. Mentality fixes the mechanics."
Reimold close to rehab
Outfielder Nolan Reimold continued to make progress in his return from a hamstring injury, and the outfielder could begin a rehabilitation assignment when the Orioles leave for a road trip next week.
Reimold, who hasn't played since May 11, was expected to sprint in "quick bursts" for the first time since the injury. If the tests went well, Showalter said, Reimold would begin a rehab assignment when the Orioles leave for Detroit and Toronto. Double-A Bowie has a homestand from June 18-23, and Reimold said he could be sent there.
"I've got to get a few at-bats," he said. "I wouldn't say pressure-free at-bats, but a few at-bats where I can just get back into the swing of things and get comfortable."
Showalter wants Reimold to be "a full go" before he comes back to the Orioles. Reimold was the designated hitter for 21 of the 30 games he appeared in this season — he spent the other nine in left field — but Showalter wants him to be able to play the field.
Lefty Wei-Yin Chen (oblique) had his throwing session from a half mound Thursday in Sarasota, Fla. He'll throw from a full mound Saturday. If that goes well, he'll go with the Orioles on the road to continue his rehab. He'll throw in front of pitching coach Rick Adair — possibly in Detroit — before the club decides what his next step is. It's expected he'll go on a minor league rehab assignment.
Showalter said the club is still talking with lefty Tsuyoshi Wada (left elbow surgery in May 2012) about extending his stay in Triple-A Norfolk. Wada, on a rehab assignment that concludes this weekend, is 1-4 with an 8.14 ERA in six starts. He must give approval to be sent to the minors. The club expects he will.
Baltimore Orioles Insider
Second baseman Alexi Casilla (right index finger) is improving and the swelling in the finger is subsiding. He played catch and has no trouble swinging right-handed, though left-handed hitting is more difficult.
Right-hander Steve Johnson (oblique) felt mild improvement for the first time since injuring his left side.
Around the horn
Left-hander Jon Lester will start for the Boston Red Sox in Sunday's series finale. Right-hander Clay Buchholz, who leads the major leagues in ERA and wins, was had been scheduled to pitch but is dealing with neck stiffness. Lester is 14-1 with a 2.63 ERA in his career against the Orioles. … Right-hander Zach Clark, who pitched in one game with the Orioles this season, has been placed on the disabled list at Bowie with a hamstring injury. … Center fielder Adam Jones and OriolesREACH donated $75,000 to the Brooklyn O'Malley Boys and Girls Club in Baltimore before the game. … First baseman Chris Davis' 42 extra-base hits through the Orioles' first 66 games are the second-most in club history behind Miguel Tejada's 43 in 2005. … Third baseman Manny Machado's 28 doubles in the first 66 games are the most in Orioles history over that span. … Right-hander Chris Tillman, who is starting Friday, is 1-1 with a 2.97 ERA in six career starts against the Red Sox. His 15 wins since July 4 last year are third-most in the American League.
Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Connolly and Daniel Gallen contributed to this article.