SARASOTA, Fla. – — How's this for one of the biggest problems facing manager Buck Showalter this spring?
The Orioles are hitting the ball too far.
Showalter had to move batting practice from the northeast practice field to the southwest field that mirrors the dimensions of Orioles Park after several unhappy spring training spectators came to the O's administrative office hoping to be reimbursed for damage to cars parked beyond the left field fence.
Chalk it up in part to the bigger, stronger lineup the club has assembled for 2011. Third baseman Mark Reynolds has been peppering that parking lot for a week, and he's not the only one. The wind has been blowing out to left on that field since the opening of pitcher/catcher workouts, so even some of the lighter-hitting position guys have been going deep on a regular basis.
"We'll put our finger in the wind every day,'' said Showalter, "and that's how we'll determine which field we'll use."
New designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero put on a show on Tuesday, closing out his BP session with some scorching line drives over the left field and center field fences, but there was plenty of open space behind the southwest field.
Nolan Reimold wasn't just a great baseball player in high school. He also was a pretty good basketball player at Kennedy Catholic High in Hermitage, Pa., just about an hour away from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, where a young kid named LeBron James was dunking his way into the national spotlight at about the same time.
So, Reimold will be able to tell his grandchildren some day that he once went head-to-head against "The King" and made a pretty good account of himself.
"He was a sophomore and I was a junior,'' Reimold said. "It was right before he got huge. We lost by one point, 51-50. He had 20 points, but he was averaging 28."
Pretty cool memory. Reimold said that he was a big LeBron fan right up until "The Decision."
"Let's just say I was disappointed,'' he said, with an expression that signaled that he was making a tremendous understatement and struggling to hold his tongue. It would probably be fair to assume that his second-favorite NBA team right now is whoever is playing the Miami Heat.
If you're wondering, Reimold said he dropped 17 points in that game, which isn't bad for a baseball player.
Reliever Jason Berken, whose 2010 season was cut short by a labrum tear, said his shoulder has felt very good so far this spring.
"The way my arm felt rehabbing, I could tell it was going to be good,'' Berken said. "Once I got through the first couple months, my arm was stronger than it's ever been."
The decision to go with a rehab program instead of surgery was made after Berken consulted with the Orioles medical staff and an independent specialist. He also consulted with former teammates Matt Albers and Kevin Millwood before going the conservative route.
"The doctors thought I could rehab it,'' he said. "Albers went through the same type of injury and Kevin had it 10 years ago. Both guys had the same thing and were able to come back. To see the way (Millwood) was able to pitch so well since then, it just made sense to me."
Around the horn: Pitcher Luis Lebron, who is coming back from elbow reconstruction surgery, has begun throwing off flat ground. … Reserve catcher Craig Tatum has been dealing with some arm soreness, so Showalter said he would give all the catchers a day off from throwing this week.