Nolan Reimold sinks lower as Orioles fall 5-1 to Seattle

May 11, 2010 | Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The image of a dejected Nolan Reimold sitting on a clubhouse couch said it all following Tuesday’s loss.

The losses continue to mount and the frustration level reaches new heights for a club that’s mustered just one run over its last 22 innings of baseball. As speculation persists regarding imminent changes to the 25-man roster, it’s apparent Reimold finds himself near the top of the list of players in danger of being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

The left fielder went 1-for-4 in Tuesday’s night’s 5-1 loss to Seattle—actually raising his average to .205—but more deflating were his defensive lapses. Reimold misjudged a Josh Wilson liner into a single that eventually scored in the fifth and committed a fielding error in the sixth that led to an unearned run.

Reimold was visibly shaken following the game as he sat alone, a couple teammates offering encouragement at different times before he spoke to the media.

“I’ve been playing pretty bad,” he said. “I know I’m a lot better than this, so [I have to] keep at it everyday and turn it around.”

The biggest question now is where Reimold will wind up in the effort to reverse his early-season struggles. It’s clear he’s severely lacking confidence after earning Rookie of the Year consideration before suffering an Achilles tendon injury to end his 2009 season.

When asked whether Reimold’s confidence level is low, manager Dave Trembley’s silence and hesitancy spoke much louder than any words of encouragement he could have offered regarding the outfielder.

“I think it’s apparent.”

Nothing mentioning Reimold’s extra efforts to improve—which he has done, by the way. No cliche of tomorrow being another day and shaking off the performance. Not even the dreaded vote of confidence was uttered by the Orioles skipper.

His lack of confidence is “apparent.”

Short and to the point.

Trembley also expressed disappointment in Reimold’s defensive lapses and their impact on Tuesday night’s outcome.

“I see him hesitant. I see him playing safety first. Better player than he’s shown. Much better player than he’s shown.”

The Orioles continue to wait for Reimold, Adam Jones, and the rest of the lineup to rebound from their abysmal performance over the first five weeks of the season. The roster move or two expected to be made prior to this week’s homestand didn’t come on Monday or Tuesday, but something must be done, even to simply send the message that the organization will not maintain the status quo of a 9-24 ball club.

Even if the options in the minors are far from attractive.

“[Tuesday], there weren’t any changes, but I wouldn’t rule that out during the homestand,” said Trembley before the series-opening loss to Seattle.

Judging by body language and post-game comments, a Reimold demotion would surprise no one at this point. Not even Reimold himself.

While the power-hitting outfielder burst onto the scene last May and experienced immediate success, Reimold’s journey to the majors was anything but smooth as he battled injuries and inconsistency at nearly every level of the minor leagues, sans his 109 at-bats at Triple-A Norfolk that led to his promotion early in the 2009 season.

Perhaps an opportunity to return to the low-pressure setting of the minor leagues will allow the outfielder to recapture the demeanor shown when he clubbed 15 homers in 358 at-bats as a rookie.

The Achilles tendon is still a lingering issue—Reimold ices it down on a regular basis following games—but his struggles run much deeper at this stage.

The last shred of Reimold’s confidence appeared to vanish under the weight of two misplays in the outfield and another loss on Tuesday night.

Can he find it again?

Of course.

But it might have to be in Norfolk.

- David Hernandez dropped his 11th consecutive decision tonight and hasn’t won since beating the Athletics on Aug. 11, 2009. It’s the longest active streak in the big leagues.

The 11-straight defeats is the second longest streak in Orioles history, trailing only Mike Boddicker, who lost 13 in a row from September 1987 to May 1988.

- The Orioles scored one run in Tuesday’s game and have now scored just 21 runs in Hernandez’s seven starts.

Of those 21 runs, only six have crossed the plate while Hernandez was actually in the game.

“I think he probably feels like he’s got to go out there and throw a shutout,” Trembley said. “And you can’t blame him for that because for the amount of times that he’s gone out there and pitched, he’s got to be very well aware of the fact that we’re not scoring any runs for him. So any mistakes that he makes—probably—he feels is going to cost him.”

Check out the box score here and the pre-game notes below.

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BALTIMORE — Good evening from a damp, chilly Oriole Park at Camden Yards as the Orioles (9-23) return home from a 2-5 road trip to host well-rested sleepless Ken Griffey Jr. and the Seattle Mariners.

Alright, I promise it’s out of my system. I think.

The Orioles will host the Mariners and Cleveland Indians for three-game sets before concluding the eight-game homestand against the Kansas City Royals next week.

Here are tonight’s lineups:

Seattle
RF Ichiro Suzuki
2B Chone Figgins
CF Franklin Gutierrez
3B Jose Lopez
1B Ryan Langerhans
SS Josh Wilson
DH Ken Griffey Jr.
C Rob Johnson
LF Michael Saunders

SP Cliff Lee (0-1, 2.40 ERA)

Baltimore
2B Julio Lugo
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
3B Miguel Tejada
DH Ty Wigginton
C Matt Wieters
LF Nolan Reimold
1B Garrett Atkins
SS Cesar Izturis

SP David Hernandez (0-4, 5.74 ERA)

After a brief hiatus, we’ll resume the Orange Crush chat tonight at 7:00 p.m., so please join an array of WNST personalities as we discuss tonight’s action from Camden Yards.

As always, remember to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and quips about tonight’s game.

Check back right here for updates (time-stamped below) leading right up to first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

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6:55 p.m. — After fully expecting the Orioles to make a roster move prior to the start of the homestand, I was surprised to find Lou Montanez still on the Orioles roster for tonight’s game. With Corey Patterson hitting .385 at Triple A, you would think the club would like his speed and defensive ability on the 25-man roster over a current .114 hitter with defensive limitations—at least in center—in Montanez.

Trembley said we could see a roster move at some point during the homestand, but it’s not a guarantee. With an offense sputtering as badly as this one is, you would think they’d be eager to make any kind of move that could offer assistance in the short-term.

Patterson is not a long-term solution by any means, but you might as well try to ride a hot player as the Orioles did with Rhyne Hughes last month. Then again, Patterson’s career .290 on-base percentage and previous tenure in Baltimore isn’t going to get anyone excited about going back in time to 2007.

6:40 p.m. — After facing a difficult run of starting pitchers in the first five weeks of the season, tonight’s game doesn’t get any easier as Cliff Lee takes the hill for the Mariners.

Lee missed the first month of the season with an abdominal strain but will make his third start tonight and 193rd of his Major League career. Though he failed to pick up a win in either of his two starts, the left-hander has pitched very well, striking out 13 and walking none in 15 innings.

In contrast, David Hernandez has struck out 20 and walked 19 in 31 1/3 innings. The young righty will try to rebound from a rough start in New York last Wednesday in which he gave up six runs and walked four in 3 2/3 innings in a 7-5 loss.

The Baltimore offense—unsurprisingly—has done little to aid the cause, scoring just 20 runs in Hernandez’s six starts, only six of those crossing the plate while the 24-year-old was still in the game.

With the continued success of Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta at Triple-A Norfolk, tonight’s start figures to loom large for Hernandez. A repeat performance of his last outing at Yankee Stadium may cause Dave Trembley and Andy MacPhail to begin contemplating whether to bring up one of the aforementioned Norfolk pitchers and shift Hernandez to the bullpen, where most think he is best-suited in the long run.

6:27 p.m. — The grounds crew is currently removing the tarp from the infield here at Camden Yards, so it appears we’ll have baseball without delay (or at least a significant one).

As for the number of people in attendance tonight, Brian Matusz t-shirts will help, but it figures to be a very small crowd, especially with the uncertain weather.

6:25 p.m. — In what would otherwise be an uneventful meeting between two of the worst teams in the American League, the Ken Griffey Jr. sleeping in the clubhouse story has created a little bit of buzz at the ballpark.

The Mariners held a closed-door team meeting earlier, obviously in an attempt to control the damage of a story released Monday by the Tacoma News Tribune that claims the future Hall of Famer was asleep in the clubhouse during a game Saturday night.

Griffey has claimed the story contains inaccuracies but would not elaborate on his version of what happened. Manager Don Wakamatsu claims Griffey was available to hit in the eighth inning of Saturday’s game but was unaware whether the veteran was asleep in the clubhouse at some point.

Regardless of the humorous nature of the story, it is truly an uncomfortable situation for Griffey and the Mariners organization. Hitting just .208 without a homer on the season, it’s clear the 40-year-old Griffey is on his last legs as a major league ballplayer. The one benefit Griffey had going for him was a positive influence with the younger players on the roster, but last week’s incident casts severe doubt on that notion.

Whether Griffey is released or announces his retirement in the coming days, it figures to be a very disappointing finish to a brilliant career.

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