I caught up with Brady Anderson a few days ago while covering the Winter Meetings in Orlando. He returned a call as I was transcribing quotes from president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, and I ended the game of phone tag a few minutes later after hitting the “publish” button.
I knew that outfielder Nolan Reimold was working out with Anderson. I knew that Anderson was impressed with Reimold’s progress after a disastrous 2010 season. I knew that Anderson offered up a favorable report to the Orioles brass - though he didn’t want to discuss it publicly - as trade talks heated up with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Orioles and Rays were discussing a deal that would have brought shortstop Jason Bartlett to Baltimore in exchange for Reimold. The Orioles were selling low, without a doubt. Reimold was slow recovering from Achilles surgery, distracted after the birth of his first child and fighting to hold onto whatever remained of his confidence.
The two sides never signed off on the trade, and the Orioles turned their attention to Minnesota Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy. Bartlett was reportedly dealt to the San Diego Padres, then the trade fell through. Reimold kept the same address.
It was a wise move, according to Anderson.
“Who they trade is not up to me, but what I can tell you is, last year he was coming off a bad surgery,” Anderson said on Wednesday, shortly before watching Reimold hit for the first time since they met up over a week ago.
“He had Achilles tendon surgery. That’s no joke. That’s not like something you recover from quickly. There’s not some magical cure. Too many people think the off-season heals everything. He had four months to recover.
“You could tell watching him run when the season started in Tampa that he wasn’t running the same and couldn’t cut the same. He’s fast for a big guy. When you have an injury, a lot of things happen. It takes time to recover and you can’t hit or train. You just have to sit around and wait to recover. He struggled early and spiraled downward.”
So what about now?
Anderson and Reimold have been working out daily at UC Irvine, and the outfielder apparently looks more like the 2009 version.
“I can tell you that he’s strong and he’s healthy,” Anderson said. “He sprinted at 100 percent and the Achilles isn’t bothering him. He’s motivated to do well. And the compelling thing is, it’s pretty well known that the Rays have a well-rounded organization and great scouting, and the fact that they want him should tell you a lot.”
Reimold is being exposed to an intense training regime that includes a lot of running on the track. Anderson puts him “on the clock” with an electronic timer.
“It’s about performance,” Anderson said. “You’ve got to be able to measure performance and see if he’s OK by timing him and see how he’s running and asking him questions - how he’s feeling, is he hurting? And he’s already way, way, way ahead of where he was last year at this point in the off-season, and we’re not done yet. He’s got two more months and he’s going to get better and better physically and be ready from Day One in spring training.
“Last year, I saw it with my own eyes. He wasn’t ready. On the first ball that was hit in the gap in Tampa, he couldn’t go after it. He had no lateral movement.”
Anderson said he didn’t know about the trade talk until Reimold informed him on Tuesday.
You can count Anderson among the people who are glad that it was silenced.