BRADENTON, Fla. — Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold went hitless in his first 22 at-bats last spring, a precursor to a disastrous 2010 season in which he spent 31/2 months at Triple-A.
It took just one swing for Reimold to get this spring off to a promising start and provide even more evidence that he is ready to put last year behind him. The 27-year-old crushed Pittsburgh Pirates starter Paul Maholm's first pitch of the second inning, sending it deep over the left-center-field wall.
Reimold also walked three times and was the only Orioles starter to play the full game in the team's 6-4 win in their Grapefruit League opener at McKechnie Field.
"A year makes a big difference," Reimold said. "I did think about that when I was in the outfield, how I started 0-for-22. I didn't want to do that again."
Team officials, including manager Buck Showalter, have noticed a different look to Reimold this spring after the outfielder spent the offseason in California working on his body and swing with former Oriole Brady Anderson. Reimold's batting practice rounds have caught Showalter's attention, as did his performance Monday.
The win was blowing hard out to left-center, but that probably was a moot point as the ball traveled way out of the stadium. Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen briefly gave it a look but didn't bother to head back to the wall.
"He knows that we're kind of throwing out last year," Showalter said. "We're starting fresh. You can tell that he's at a good place in his life right now. I wanted to get him out there for a lot of at-bats today."
That's just fine with Reimold, who said he has "no complaints physically, so he can run me out there as much as he wants."
Reimold hit .207 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 39 games for the Orioles in a 2010 season marred by off-the-field distractions and a slow recovery from Achilles surgery.
"I worked hard, and I was prepared for spring training," he said. "I just feel good."
Updates on Duchscherer, Lee
Two days after expressing concern over recurring soreness in his left hip, starter Justin Duchscherer got through another throwing session and came away feeling upbeat.
"He threw on flat, flat ground. Then he went to the flat-ground mound, and then he actually finished up on the half mound," said Showalter, who stayed back at Ed Smith Stadium for a while to witness Duchscherer's throwing session. "He's pretty upbeat about how he feels compared to a couple of days ago. [Head athletic trainer Richie Bancells] feels the same way. It will be interesting to see how he feels tomorrow. I wouldn't say he turned it loose today, but he was pretty firm with his mechanics and his actions and everything. We'll see where we'll go with him."
Showalter said Duchscherer, who has had three surgeries on his hips during his career, will take Tuesday off before throwing Wednesday if all goes well.
Also, for the first time since having his right thumb surgically repaired in November, first baseman Derrek Lee took batting practice on consecutive days and moved closer to playing in a game.
"He came today with no soreness, no puffiness after [Sunday], which was a real good BP," Showalter said. "That's an exciting sound for us. It's the first time he's done work and come back not sore or had no real swelling in that area at all."
Pleased with pitching
Showalter joked that there were hurricane-type winds heading out to left field and said the two-run homer Miles Durham hit off Josh Rupe in the ninth inning would have been caught by the shortstop in normal conditions. With that in mind, he was particularly pleased by the pitching staff, which limited the Pirates to the four runs and five hits.
"We'd be really picky to find anybody we weren't real happy with throwing the ball," Showalter said.
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