It’s become the most interesting battle in the AL East.
Forget the Yankees and Red Sox (and I keep trying). Orioles fans seem more worked up about Felix Pie unseating Nolan Reimold as the starting left fielder.
Has he really done it?
Reimold was brought along slowly this spring because of the Achilles surgery. He told me that he wouldn’t be 100 percent until mid-summer, though he ran the bases much better as the Orioles were preparing to break camp.
Reimold also started to look more comfortable at the plate, but he wasn’t able to play in back-to-back games until we were approaching the end of the exhibition schedule. It’s been a process.
Meanwhile, Pie batted .342 with four doubles, a triple and two homers in 14 games. He’s earned his spot in the lineup over the next few days, when the Orioles will be playing on The Trop’s fake grass.
(It looks like grass, it feels like grass, but brother, that ain’t grass.)
I can’t tell you when Reimold will make his first start, but he isn’t being phased out. He’ll simply have to wait his turn, just as the Orioles waited for him this spring.
Too many good outfielders? I’ll take that problem.
First base is one option for Reimold down the road. And as manager Dave Trembley told reporters yesterday, it’s way down that road. You’ll need a map.
FYI: Ben Zobrist is a career .312 hitter against the Orioles, with eight homers and 29 RBIs in 109 at-bats. Jason Bartlett is batting .337 with three homers and 18 RBIs in 172 at-bats. Carl Crawford is hitting .300 with 10 homers and 64 RBIs in 500 at-bats. Dioner Navarro is batting .300 with 23 RBIs in 150 at-bats. Reid Brignac is 7-for-16 (.438) with a homer and three RBIs.
Tonight’s starter, James Shields, is 6-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 16 appearances against the Orioles. He’s faced them more than any other team. Introductions won’t be necessary.
Before I step away from the laptop, I wanted to mention that The Right Side Foundation, established by Nick and Christina Markakis, is selling T-shirts to raise money for distressed children in Maryland.
The limited-edition shirts cost $24.99 and can be purchased at Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards or at RightSideFoundation.org, with proceeds benefiting the Right Side Foundation and Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation.
The front of the shirt features The Right Side Foundation logo centered on the chest under the Under Armour logo, while the back has “Markakis” across the shoulders and the number “21” in black letters with white trim. Underneath the number in white is the Foundation’s website, “RightSideFoundation.org.”