Reimold ready for leadoff duties (O’s beat Rays 3-1)

SARASOTA, Fla. - Nolan Reimold is batting leadoff in tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, which he accepts with a shrug of his shoulders. Reimold might be the least animated guy in the Orioles’ clubhouse. He isn’t going to get all worked up over any assignment.

“I just took a peek over there and saw my name on the top of the lineup, so I’ll be ready to go first at-bat,” he said.

In his perfect world, would he be the everyday leadoff hitter?

“In my perfect world, I’m in the lineup,” he said. “Wherever I’m at is good with me. I’ll be ready to go.”

The Orioles don’t have a prototypical leadoff hitter beyond second baseman Brian Roberts, but Reimold has good at-bats and posted a .328 on-base percentage despite hitting .247 in 87 games last season.

“Maybe I don’t look the part of a leadoff guy, but I can run, hopefully get on base,” he said. “I don’t have too much experience with bunting, but we don’t bunt that often as a team. I’ve been working on bunting for base hits early on here, so maybe I can incorporate that in my game a little bit. If I’m in the leadoff spot more often, I’ll try to do more of those types of things.”

At the same time, Reimold shouldn’t try to completely change his approach simply because he’s batting first. Most hitters will tell you that’s the wrong way to go about it.

“I’ve been playing the game for a while now, so I know what I’m good at and what I’m not so good at,” he said. “You don’t want to force anything, but at the same time, you always look for other ways to get on base, other edges. First spring training game, I’ll take it as it comes, take advice from the coaches and other guys who have batted leadoff before, and I’ll just run with it.”

Reimold has been in the leadoff spot eight times in his major league career, though not always for an entire game. He’s 6-for-24 with three doubles, two walks, nine strikeouts and six runs scored.

“After the first at-bat, it’s not too different from any other at-bat,” Reimold said. “That’s the one basically different at-bat in a game.”

Over in Port Charlotte, Rule 5 pick Ryan Flaherty stroked a two-run triple in the eighth inning to increase the Orioles’ lead to 3-0 over the Tampa Bay Rays. Nick Johnson had a bases-loaded walk to break a scoreless tie.

Flaherty, Matt Antonelli and Joe Mahoney each have two hits. Manny Machado is playing shortstop in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Brad Bergesen (two strikeouts) and Miguel Socolovich (four strikeouts) each tossed two scoreless innings. Zach Phillips struck out two in a perfect seventh inning.

Update: The Orioles defeated the Rays, 3-1. Pedro Strop allowed a run and two hits in the ninth, but he struck out three batters and recorded the save.

Orioles minor leaguer Travis Adair, the son of pitching coach Rick Adair, was hit in the head by a line drive during batting practice. Manager Buck Showalter told reporters that a CT scan came back negative, and Adair is returning to Sarasota with the team.

Injury update: Jason Berken (hamstring) threw off flat ground again today, moving back to 140 feet. He also simulated his delivery.

“It was another step in the right direction,” he said. “It’s still not 100 percent, but it’s definitely getting closer. I haven’t had any setbacks yet.”

Berken said he should be throwing off a half mound “sooner rather than later.”

“I can’t give you an exact date,” he said, “but I can’t imagine that it will be too much longer.”

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