BALTIMORE — After waiting nearly two months for a herniated disc to respond favorably, Orioles left fielder Nolan Reimold has decided to undergo neck surgery in a move that will likely end his 2012 season.
The 28-year-old announced the decision prior to Friday’s game and weighed his options carefully after consulting with multiple cervical specialists in the Baltimore area. The spinal fusion surgery will be performed by Dr. Ziya Gokaslan at Johns Hopkins Hospital on Monday morning.
“The best thing to do as far as my career is definitely to get the surgery,” Reimold said. “[It will] get the pressure off the nerve that’s being pushed on.”
Reimold said the procedure is similar to the one underwent by Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. The herniated disc will be removed and two vertebrae will be fused together. While doctors told Reimold there’s a very small chance he could return by the end of the season, he told reporters not to bet on that scenario, explaining how the body responds to spinal fusion in different ways from individual to individual.
The outfielder expressed frustration with not being able to contribute to a Baltimore club that was nine games above .500 entering the start of this weekend’s series against the Washington Nationals, but he’s cognizant how critical the recovery period will be for the remainder of his playing career.
“I’m resigned to the fact that I’m going to do the surgery and do my rehab until I’m ready to play at this level,” Reimold said. “Whether it takes eight weeks or longer, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Reimold was hitting .313 with five home runs and 10 runs batted in prior to hitting the disabled list in early May.
Though the loss of Reimold for the remainder of the season was becoming more likely after two epidural injections failed to solve the neck issue, his absence forces the Orioles to address the left field position for the remainder of the season. Veteran Steve Pearce has held down the position recently, but a more intriguing internal option might be Chris Davis, who was once again in right field despite the Orioles returning to American League rules on Friday.
Davis handled right field adequately over the six-game National League road trip, so it’s apparent Buck Showalter is trying to assess his normal designated hitter in more extensive fashion. His bat translates well to left field and his defense wouldn’t have to be all that good to even match the skills of someone like Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano, who is a potential trade target and known for playing less-than-stellar defense.
“To not be a part of it, just to watch it is kind of tough,” said Reimold about not being part of a winning team. “But I’m still rooting for the guys and puling for them. Just from that perspective, it’s tough, but I’ll be back. Everything should go well, and I’ll do everything I can to be back as soon as I can — and hopefully be stronger.”
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