We love to second-guess here, and the ninth inning allowed us to work our craft.
Should Corey Patterson have been sent up to pinch-hit for Nolan Reimold? Should you bunt with Cesar Izturis on deck? Should Izturis be allowed to hit in that situation? What about Josh Bell?
Reporters were kicking around suggestions after the game. We basically agreed that manager Buck Showalter’s options were limited, which is odd in September. Teams can expand their rosters, yet the Orioles looked like they were short-handed on the bench (and the bullpen if you consider that he wanted to avoid using Koji Uehara and Jim Johnson.)
I would have sent up Jake Fox to hit for Izturis, but that doesn’t make me right. Fox is batting .217. We’ll never know how that one would have turned out.
We had a pretty good idea about Bell, who’s walked twice and struck out 40 times in 112 at-bats.
Reimold is 1-for-6 with an RBI since returning to the Orioles. He put together a big month of August at Triple-A Norfolk, which prompted them to take another look at him.
Former Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson made four separate trips to Norfolk to work with Reimold, who admitted that he was trying to “hit .300 with one swing” and falling deeper into his offensive funk.
“We worked on some fundamental things about my swing. Pretty much that you’d teach anybody,” Reimold said. “I just had to get back to the basics. From the first session with him, I felt a lot more dangerous at the plate, I guess you could say, like I could hit the ball again. That was a big help for me.”
Reimold was still recovering from Achilles surgery, and still trying to locate his swing, when the Orioles optioned him to Norfolk. It took a long time to find it.
Anderson arrived after Reimold had logged 131 at-bats with the Tides. Anderson recalls that Reimold was hitting .206 with a .289 slugging percentage.
“He was in trouble,” Anderson said. “To Andy MacPhail and Peter Angelos’ credit, they saw that he needed some special help, special instruction. It’s still a process with his mechanics. They’re not where they need to be, but he’s got a chance now. You saw (Wednesday) night. He had really competitive at-bats against one of the best left-handers (Jon Lester) in all of baseball. And in the end he got a sac fly against Daniel Bard, who’s throwing 100 mph with a nasty slider.
“I know all about this. I know what it’s like to feel lost at the plate for extended periods of time, and it’s demoralizing. You don’t feel right. I spent huge amounts of time with him at Norfolk, one-on-one time on the field, early hitting, trying to get his mechanics where he feels comfortable, so you’re not at the plate thinking about mechanics. You can’t do it. You see a swing like Brian Roberts. His swing is so similar. It’s always there, it’s always the same. When he goes to the plate, it’s a battle between him and the pitcher. When a guy who’s struggling goes to the plate, it’s a battle between him and his mechanics and the pitcher, and that’s too many battles.
“To be a good hitter, to be a consistent hitter, you’ve got to reach certain positions in your swing. So you go through the process of the swing. There are certain models you can go by. Manny Ramirez is a good model. Robinson Cano’s a good model. There are certain points they reach. Hitters are more similar than dissimilar, and they reach certain points in their swing, and Nolan wasn’t getting to those points.
“It’s taking him through the process of what the points are, telling him how he needs to reach them, get him feeling them himself. What you really want for a hitter is, you want to keep him on the right path, but you want him to be self sufficient. The best thing would be if you could teach them so well, they wouldn’t need you anymore.
“People don’t understand that, if you’re struggling in the big leagues, you’re going to go down to Triple-A and get it handed to you, as well. He went down to Triple-A and went four for his first 40. If you’re struggling in the big leagues, you’re not going to go down to Triple-A and tear it up. They have good pitchers down there. They’re the big leaguers of tomorrow. You’re just not seeing the consistent Dice-K, Beckett, Lester, Buchholz combinations.”