Looking back and ahead (with note)

The first 15 Orioles were retired Saturday night. The first nine were retired Sunday afternoon. The first six were retired last night.

That’s what I call progress.

The Orioles are getting off to slow starts. That’s the point I’m trying to make here. And the second inning has really been a sinkhole.

The Orioles are 0-for-33 in the second inning over their last 10 games since Mark Reynolds hit a home run off A.J. Burnett on July 29.

The offense is batting .190 (23-for-121) with 13 runs scored over the first three innings in the last 11 games.

Like many of you, I’ve been calling for Nolan Reimold to make most of the starts in left field over these last two months. My opinion hasn’t changed. The Orioles need to figure out whether he’s a possibility to handle the position fulltime in 2012.

Right now, he isn’t taking advantage of the opportunity.

Reimold went 1-for-4 last night and is 4-for-33 in his last 10 games, lowering his average to .215 with six homers and 18 RBIs in 130 at-bats.

Reimold ended the second, fourth and sixth innings last night. Matt Wieters had hits, including two doubles, leading off the third, fifth and seventh.

Josh Bell had two hits, both from the right side of the plate, but he also committed another error on a ball hit to his left, he double-clutched after fielding Alex Rio’s bouncer before throwing to second for the force - eliminating the chance at a double play - and he failed to come up with Rios’ grounder in the eighth that enabled the go-ahead run to score.

That ball also was hit to his left, which seems to be an issue with Bell. He’s been better on shots down the line. And he made a terrific barehanded pickup and throw to retire Juan Pierre on a bunt in the ninth inning.

The Orioles must figure out whether to keep Bell at third or give him more work at first, perhaps grooming him for a role as a backup corner infielder. It’s much too early to predict how the roster will look next season, but Bell could be blocked by Reynolds at third and Chris Davis at first. And he isn’t exactly forcing the Orioles to make room for him.

Vladimir Guerrero went 0-for-4 last night. He struck out in the second inning, grounded out on the first pitch he saw in the fourth and popped up the first pitch he saw in the sixth. He also grounded out to short to end the seventh after the Orioles rallied to take a 7-6 lead.

Great battle in the fourth inning between Jeremy Guthrie and Gordon Beckham. The at-bat lasted 14 pitches and ended with Beckham flying to left field.

How long will Jo-Jo Reyes last in tonight’s start?

Reyes had six quality starts among his 20 outings with the Blue Jays before they designated him for assignment. He’s never faced the White Sox.

In his only start at Camden Yards on June 5, Reyes picked up the win after allowing three earned runs and five hits, with four walks and three strikeouts, in 6 1/3 innings.

Manager Buck Showalter chose Reyes over Brad Bergesen and Triple-A Norfolk’s Rick VandenHurk.

“We’d like to see him, get our arms around what he could bring, comparatively speaking,” Showalter said yesterday. “He’s here, he’s obviously thrown multiple innings this year. I think he’s very similar to Tommy (Hunter) and the way you can use him. So we thought of the options available and where we were with some of the moving parts the past few days. It was the best option.”

A good performance could lead to more starts for Reyes. He isn’t necessarily one-and-done.

“It’s kind of like (Alfredo) Simon has done fairly well,” Showalter said. “I know he’s looking forward to the opportunity and looking at some of his stuff, you can see why he’s had some challenges, you can see why he’s been well thought of in some regards, too. Been some good baseball people working with him and evaluating him. He’s a pitcher with some success in the big leagues. Not much, but hopefully he takes advantage of the opportunity.”

Let’s see if Reyes can continue the starters’ recent trend of pinpoint control. They’ve issued only one walk over the last five games spanning 29 innings.

The Orioles will face Gavin Floyd tonight. In his last start, the Severna Park native allowed 10 runs and nine hits - including two homers - in 2 1/3 innings in an 18-7 loss to the Yankees.

Guerrero is 4-for-24 (.167) lifetime against Floyd. Felix Pie is 7-for-12 (.583).

NOTE: Sports Legends Museum will host an exclusive event with Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are limited for this event and are available by contacting Whitney Edmonds at WhitneyE@BabeRuthMuseum.com or by calling 410-727-1539, ext. 3033. Tickets are $200.

“An Evening with Earl Weaver” will include a program surrounding Weaver’s legendary career and a Q&A session. Everyone in attendance will receive the first look at the museum’s Weaver exhibit that will be unveiled that night. The exhibit features Weavers’ Hall of Fame ring, retired Orioles’ jerseys and much more.

The night also includes a cocktail reception, admission to the exhibits and free parking at the museum. Every guest will have a photo taken with Weaver following the program.

Little-known fact: Weaver is credited with pioneering the use of radar guns in professional baseball to track the speed of pitches. He introduced the idea during spring training in Miami in 1975.

I didn’t cover the team during its Miami days, but the beat writers worried about being introduced to guns while walking back to their cars after exhibition games. Rough neighborhood.

Anyway, it’s always a pleasure to see Weaver and reminisce about better days.

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