Orioles could call Reimold up in Sept.

After struggling this year, outfielder is hitting .357 at Triple-A Norfolk

August 20, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

It's been a tumultuous season for outfielder Nolan Reimold, but it looks as if it is going to end the way it started: in an Orioles uniform.

Reimold, one of the organization's brightest stars in 2009, was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk on May 12 after hitting .205 with a .302 on base percentage in 96 at-bats. He was even worse when he joined the Tides, finishing May in the minors with just six hits in 49 at-bats (.122 average).

This month at Triple-A, however, he's looked like the Reimold of 2009, hitting .357 with a .519 on-base percentage and a .554 slugging percentage in his first 17 August games.

The organization, including president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and new manager Buck Showalter, has noticed.

"I can't say I know him well," Showalter said. "Listening to some [people] and trying to keep a clear mind about some other things, I do know he is playing well there, consistently, and not for the first time this year."

Reimold, 26, was considered the Orioles left fielder of the future after hitting .279 with 15 homers last year. But his 2009 was cut short due to an Achilles' injury that required surgery. He struggled in the spring and also has been dealing with off-the-field issues, twice briefly leaving the Tides this season for personal reasons.

"I think there have been some issues other than just playing the game itself that challenges all players. You are up here and you are the so-called flavor of the month and everybody is extolling your virtues and then you have some challenges in the game, and it all affects young players on and off the field," Showalter said. "And I am aware of some of the challenges he has faced and (it) looks like he is starting to turn the corner and get that behind him."

Showalter wouldn't guarantee that Reimold will get a September call-up, but he admits that he has discussed it with MacPhail, and it would be extremely surprising if Reimold wasn't back in the majors in the next two weeks

"We all love his potential and what he can bring," Showalter said. "Hopefully he is at that stage of his career that he is ready to bring it again. He is definitely real strong on the radar."

Lugo a go at left field

For the first time since 2006 when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, infielder Julio Lugo started a big-league game in left field. Because Texas Rangers starter C.J. Wilson is so tough on left-handed hitters, Showalter sat lefties Felix Pie, Corey Patterson and Luke Scott on Friday, which gave the seldom-used Lugo a chance to start in a different place.

"I think I can play anywhere. I don't think I'm going to be that comfortable right away, but the routine flyballs I can catch," said Lugo, who has shagged fly balls during batting practice, but hasn't played outfield since a one-inning stint in 2008 with the Boston Red Sox. "The toughest thing to do is catch the ball and I'm going to do that. I'm going to go out there and try my best."

Lugo misplayed the first ball hit to him in the first inning, a line drive by Josh Hamilton that Lugo came in for, leapt to catch, and had it nick his glove for a double. He has played 18 games in his 11-season career in the outfield, 11 of those in left. He has started just twice in left field in his career, once in 2006 with the Dodgers and in 2001 with the Houston Astros.

"I talked to him a little bit today about it, too," Showalter said of Lugo. "At least it gets him in the lineup. He'll play anywhere, but it's not something that's foreign to him. He's a good athlete."

Second opinion on Berken

Right-hander Jason Berken will meet with New York Mets team physician David Altchek in New York on 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to get a second opinion on his ailing shoulder. Berken was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 16 after a magnetic resonance imaging showed he had a tear in his right labrum and rotator cuff fraying.

Berken, who was 3-3 with a 3.03 ERA in 41 games this season and was the club's best pitcher in the first half, is hoping to avoid surgery. Right now, rest and than rehabilitation has been prescribed.

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