A new and improved Reimold?

SARASOTA, Fla. - Derrek Lee has reported to camp. He might wait until tomorrow to take his first swings.

The signing of Vladimir Guerrero could push Nolan Reimold off the 25-man roster and down to Triple-A Norfolk, but he’s digging in his heels this spring. He’s reported to camp in much better condition, both physically and mentally, and intends to pose a serious challenge for the left field job or reserve duty.

“I feel really good. I feel strong, I feel healthy and ready to go,” he said this morning.

“I’ll be ready to play if I’m in the lineup or just on the team or whatever. I plan on having a great spring. I’ve just got to take care of myself and my business.”

Reimold was recovering from Achilles surgery when he reported last spring. He couldn’t run at full speed and started out 0-for-22 in Grapefruit League games before going 15-for-31 to raise his average to .283, which led the club among players with 50 or more at-bats. He spent most of the summer at Norfolk, batting .249 with 10 homers and 37 RBIs in 94 games. He hit .207 in 39 games with the Orioles.

“I was ready to get last year behind me,” he said. “I couldn’t wait for it to be over. It’s done, it’s gone and I’m looking ahead and not back.”

Reimold says it’s “night and day” for him compared to last spring.

“Last year, I came in and I was not in the best of shape, among other things. I feel great this year and I’m ready to go. I had a good offseason and I’m looking forward to the year,” he said.

“I remember coming in last year. The first time we did cones, I’m turning on them and hobbling along. I feel good this year. I feel 100 percent.”

Reimold worked out with Brady Anderson over the winter, while the Orioles considered a deal that would have sent him to Tampa Bay for shortstop Jason Bartlett. The goal of those sessions: “To get bigger, faster and stronger,” he said.

“We also did baseball-stuff, too. Worked on my swing and that sort of thing. I’m more comfortable. I know that. When he came and helped me out last year, there was a big difference, but now I’m more comfortable with what we were working on. He knows how to work the mechanics of the swing and put power in your stroke. He’s a good teacher.”

Reimold’s chances of making the club will improve if manager Buck Showalter decides to keep an extra outfielder on the bench instead of a second utility infielder. Felix Pie is out of options, so Reimold is working at more of a disadvantage.

Given what he endured last spring, you’d hardly know it.

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