Outfielder homers in second game of return to Baltimore
By Connor Smolensky
BALTIMORE -- Buck Showalter sat and spoke in front of the media following the Orioles' 6-5 win on Thursday with the tone of a reminiscing, proud father when discussing Nolan Reimold.
The Orioles' manager talked about the first time he ever saw him track down a fly ball in Spring Training, how much the outfielder had been through in his career and just how impressed he was with Reimold.
"I was thinking tonight watching Nolan, this is a guy who basically broke his neck diving in the stands for his team, his family, his city, whatever," Showalter said. "Going after some of the balls tonight, it just reminds me what the separator is of these guys at this level. Kind of put yourself in his shoes. That's pretty impressive."
Showalter's praise for Reimold doesn't go unwarranted. He fought through a lot to get back into the Orioles' lineup. Reimold showed promise as a rookie in 2009 in Baltimore, had down years in 2010 and 2011, and was on a tear to begin 2012 before he suffered a herniated cervical disk in his neck while diving into the stands for a ball in Chicago that ended his season.
He needed a second season-ending corrective neck surgery in 2013, and played in just 29 games last season with Toronto and Arizona. On Thursday night, he was back in the lineup and city where it all began.
"I had a lot of fun getting out there in front of a good crowd and playing baseball and making some plays," Reimold said.
Reimold reminded fans of what he could bring to the lineup when he recorded eight putouts in left field and hit a solo home run to center in the third inning.
It was his first home run since Aug. 31, 2014, against the Rockies, and his first in an Orioles uniform since July 10, 2013, against Texas.
"I don't think I was thinking, it was just happening," Reimold said. "But I was soaking it up. I was enjoying it. It was fun to be back out there in Camden [Yards] and playing for the Orioles again."
After Reimold was designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by Toronto on July 6 last season, he didn't think he would ever be back in Baltimore. But he always wanted it.
His wishes were fulfilled when he got the callup to the Major Leagues on Tuesday. Since joining the team, Reimold has played in two games in left field, going 1-for-5 with two walks and a home run at the plate.
"If you just stay true and keep grinding, the baseball gods are pretty good to you, and that's what Nolan's done through thick and thin," Showalter said. "A lot of guys would have given in, but to have a good season you've got to have things like that happen. I know everybody feels good for Nolan. It's been a long journey for him."
Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.