In the month of August, the Orioles, under new manager Buck Showalter, have become one of the hottest teams in the league.
MASN is getting its best rating all year, and fans are already starting to tune back in. However, the recent buzz in the big leagues has masked the success of a familiar name in AAA Norfolk: Nolan Reimold.
After a tremendous rookie season was shortened by an Achilles tear, many thought Reimold would come back strong and be amongst the team leaders. Unfortunately for the organization, Reimold found it more difficult to come back than was expected and once he did, he was not even close to the same guy fans watched last season.
Reimold was eventually sent down to AAA to work on his issues, but it only got worse there. In May, Reimold batted .122 and questions of whether he would be able to rebound were floating around Baltimore.
The Tides tried just about everything, including trying him out at first base. Reimold now switches back and forth from the outfield to first. However, none of that mattered until August.
Since August 1, Reimold has turned it on and is looking a lot like the guy that was on pace to be the AL rookie of the year in 2009. He is batting .333 with two home runs and nine RBIs this month and is starting to get back into the discussion of being called up.
Although there are tons of theories on why he struggled in May, June and July, the best explanation is that he was rushed back after his surgery on the torn Achilles tendon. Throughout Spring Training, Reimold was seen limping and was shuffled in and out of the lineup to help his foot rest. He was so focused on being able to play on opening day, that he didn’t realize that it was in his best interest to wait until he was truly ready.
While getting sent back down is never a good thing, there is a silver lining in the situation. With the emergence of Cory Patterson, the O’s now have four solid outfielders (Patterson, Felix Pie, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis). With that big of a log jam, finding a spot in the outfield for Reimold would be tough. By being in AAA, Reimold has been able to work on switching to first base and might be able to avoid further cluttering the Orioles outfield.
The original hope of the Orioles was that Brandon Snyder would be the guy to fill that void, but Snyder has been up and down this year and the certainty of him contributing to the big league club has diminished. If Reimold can learn the position, then he can provide another option for the team’s future at first base.
Assuming Reimold stays hot throughout August, there is no doubt that he will be one of the first people called up when rosters expand on September first. When that happens, it will be interesting to see if he can be the player we all thought he could be.