With the Baltimore Orioles and veteran DH Vladimir Guerrero agreeing to terms almost one week ago, many O's fans have lit up the comment sections of the blogs of sites like the Baltimore Sun and MASN talking and debating about what that means for current O's Luke Scott, Felix Pie, and Nolan Reimold.
Prior to the O's inking Bad Vlad, it was generally assumed Scott would be the full-time DH in Baltimore for the third consecutive season, with Pie and Reimold platooning in left field. Now that Guerrero has come to town, though, Scott will be pushed into left (a position he fields on about an average-to-above-average rating), and Pie and Reimold will be battling it out in Spring Training for the fourth outfielder role.
Pie is assumed to have the edge, as he is the only one of the two who can play center field, which is necessary to have to rest starting center fielder Adam Jones and to back him up if he goes down.
With that said, many believe the Orioles will break camp with Pie as their fourth outfielder and Reimold heading to AAA Norfolk, though there is a possibility that the O's can take both down to Tampa for Opening Day, if they decide to send Craig Tatum down to AAA and use Jake Fox as their backup catcher.
Unless Reimold blows away manager Buck Showalter in Spring Training, however, I feel that more time in AAA could be a good thing for the young outfielder.
Reimold had a dreadful year in 2010, hitting a measly .207 in 116 at-bats, with only 3 homers and 14 RBI after making a run at the Rookie of the Year award in 2009 with a line of .279/15/45. His 2009 season ended early, though, when he tore his Achilles tendon and the club wouldn't let him play through the injury.
It isn't easy coming back from an Achilles injury, and coupled with off-the-field problems that haven't been specified, Reimold couldn't get back into his groove early in the 2010 season at the plate or in the field. Normally a solid left fielder, he was making mistakes left and right, and was demoted to AAA in May, where he continued to struggle. It wasn't until some time after the all-star break when he began tearing the cover off the ball again, and earned himself a September call-up. He still wasn't the Reimold of 2009, but one could tell he was taking steps in the right direction.
I believe Reimold can develop into a solid major-league left fielder, who plays a slightly above average left field and produces at the plate in comparison to Josh Willingham. A player like that is a player that any team would love to have; a very nice complimentary piece to any lineup. But Reimold still needs time to show he's past that horrendous start to last season, and to continue to build his confidence. Confidence he started building late in 2010. He simply needs more time to build it up even further.
I would imagine the man was extremely shaken up during most of last season, having to deal with whatever it was that was so fully distracting him away from baseball, as well as trying to figure out what it was he was doing wrong at the plate. But he was starting to figure things out again, and if he can continue to do that, he'll build up his confidence, something that is necessary in baseball if one wants to succeed.
It would be much easier for him to do so in AAA than being thrown back in the batter's box against pitchers such as CC Sabathia, David Price, Felix Hernandez and Jon Lester. If he got off to a bad start up in the show again this year, there's no telling what that would do to hisconfidence. However, if he were to make a great run down in AAA and, say, the O's traded Vlad Guerrero at the deadline for a prospect or two, Reimold could be called up and use that momentum to turn himself into a solid ballplayer.
Reimold still has some things to learn about himself and about hitting in the game of baseball, and that would be much easier for him to do at the AAA level than at the highest level of the game. Less pressure and easier pitching to hit would help him immensely. Not to mention he could spend some time at first base, learning the position at a lower level, if that's a skill the club eventually decides they'd like him to have.
As long as Showalter explains to Reimold that a trip to AAA wouldn't be a demotion, but a learning opportunity, he should be fine. He needs it, mechanically and mentally.