Reimold ready for return

SARASOTA, Fla. - The swelling in Nolan Reimold’s left cheek is almost gone. Though he’s not ready to devour a steak - too much chewing - he’s progressed from shakes to soft foods. And he’s taking hard swings in the batting cage.

Reimold will return to the Orioles’ lineup tomorrow afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays, only four days after being drilled in the face by an Alex Cobb fastball in Port Charlotte.

“It’s healing pretty fast,” he said this morning after taking batting practice. “Just sitting here doesn’t hurt really at all. It’s just biting down or moving it too far. But that doesn’t really matter much when you’re playing baseball.

“I’m kind of surprised at how little it hurt. It didn’t hurt at all afterward. No aching or soreness.”

Reimold isn’t apprehensive about stepping back in the box, but he does find some comfort in knowing that the Rays are starting left-hander David Price. Another southpaw, Matt Moore - widely regarded as the No. 1 prospect in baseball - will make his spring debut tomorrow.

Why is this good news for Reimold?

Because if a right-handed batter is going to get smacked in the grill by a fastball, it’s usually coming from a right-handed pitcher.

“I don’t really have to worry about getting hit in the face by a lefty,” Reimold said. “If he wants to hit me in the face, he’s really going to have to try. (Matt) Wieters pointed that out. He never has to worry about getting hit in the face.”

“Almost impossible,” Wieters said.

Reimold explained that a left-hander would have to throw across his body. It’s not the same as Cobb’s heater tailing away.

“I’ve never seen anybody get hit in the face when it’s lefty-righty,” Reimold said. “It’s not impossible, but you’d purposely have to do it, I’d think.”

As Wieters pointed out, the ball leaves a pitcher’s hand too early when it’s around the batter’s head. If Price or Moore drill Reimold, his legs are more likely to be bruised.

It’s the same opponent for Reimold. He fully expects a different ending to his day.

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