Making good on the promise that changes would be made to the club's woeful offense, the Orioles demoted starting left fielder Nolan Reimold to Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday and replaced him with veteran outfielder Corey Patterson.
"I was kind of surprised. I haven't been playing well, so it's understood. I have to go down and start hitting," Reimold said in a phone conversation with The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday afternoon. "It has just been frustrating. I haven't been playing the way I want to play, the way I know that I can play."
Reimold, 26, was the club's most pleasant surprise in 2009, when he hit .279 with 15 homers and was an American League Rookie of the Year candidate before left Achilles surgery ended his season. This year, he never seemed comfortable at the plate and in the field — and never looked 100 percent healthy.
"We held on as long as we possibly could with him," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "This was a discussion that had been going on for a while. I was hoping he was going to hit himself through it. But we got to a point where he wasn't getting much success here and he needs to go to Triple-A and get some success. … He is very important to us, and we don't expect his stay to be long. But that is up to him."
Reimold will join the Tides on Friday in Buffalo, and he joked that he'll be working on everything possible while he is there.
"Hitting the ball, getting on base, fielding and throwing," Reimold said. "It all kind of snowballed. I didn't get off to a hot start, and then you start pressing and you try too hard to not make mistakes. And that's when you do make mistakes. That's kind of what happened to me."
Trembley and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail have said they had to improve an offense that, heading into Wednesday, was second to last in the majors in runs per game (3.27). But Reimold's demotion still came as a shock within the clubhouse.
"It's crazy he got sent down. You know that you've got to play, you've got to produce," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. "He was struggling up here a little bit, but he continued to play hard. It just wasn't falling. He hit balls hard right at them. It's frustrating."
It was the first, but perhaps the not the last, change made to the offense. Outfielders Lou Montanez, Luke Scott and perhaps even Jones could be playing for their big league jobs.
"He's not the only one that's frustrated in this clubhouse," Jones said of Reimold. "It's just that he's the one that got moved. I wish the best for him. You've got to go down there and rake Triple-A pitching, act like he doesn't even belong there because he doesn't. Come back up here with a new mentality and start back over."
Trembley said he wasn't sending a message to the offense as much as he was trying to better the team and give Reimold a chance to succeed.
"I hope it is a two-fold purpose here," Trembley said. "We need to get somebody that can spark our offense, I am not putting it all on Corey, but he has been a leadoff guy in the past. He was playing very well at Triple-A. Nolan wasn't playing well here. It's unfortunate that these things happen, but they do happen."
Patterson returns to Orioles
When Patterson left the Orioles after the 2007 season, he said he didn't think he'd be back, but he didn't rule it out either.
"You leave organizations [and believe there's] no way you're going to be back. It happens occasionally," Patterson said. "But I'm happy to be back here, I look forward to helping the team, contribute to some wins. There's obviously work to do, but I'm looking forward to that."
Patterson, 30, took a circuitous route back to Camden Yards, playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers in the past two seasons. He attended spring training with the Seattle Mariners in March and was back at his Georgia home working out in April before the Orioles called. Now he is in the majors after batting .368 with two RBIs and three stolen bases in 14 games with the Tides.
"It's been a long two and a half, three weeks," he said, "but well worth it."
Patterson flew in from Syracuse on Wednesday afternoon and found himself in the starting lineup batting leadoff and playing left field. With Brian Roberts out for at least another month, Patterson could be the team's primary leadoff hitter — something he said he would embrace but didn't matter so long as he was in the lineup.
Trembley, however, wouldn't commit to naming Patterson as his top-of-the-lineup guy.
"Let's let him get here, let me talk to him," Trembley said before Wednesday's game. "He is in the leadoff spot [Wednesday]. He's got experience. He was playing very well in Triple-A, so he was the logical guy to bring here."
Roberts to 60-day DL
To make room for Patterson on the 40-man roster, the Orioles placed Roberts (herniated disk) on the 60-day disabled list retroactive to April 9, when the second baseman last played.