Reynolds stays in lineup (game scoreless through fifth)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Mark Reynolds is getting another start at first base today, as manager Buck Showalter looks to insert extra right-handed bats in the lineup against Rays left-hander David Price.

He’s not exactly going with the hot hand.

Reynolds has hit only eight home runs this season, and none since July 16 in Minnesota. He’s totaled five RBIs in his last 17 games, and only one since July 20. He’s also batting .177 with six walks and 27 strikeouts in those 17 games.

“Mark’s playing a good first base for us. He’s contributing there,” manager Buck Showalter said. “It seems like he gets a walk a game, gets on base. But he’s pressing. He’s trying to do the things he’s capable of doing every day out there. I know it’s very frustrating for him.”

Instant update: Reynolds just added to his team-leading walk total in the second inning.

Reynolds always could be counted on to hit home runs, no matter his average and strikeout totals, but he hasn’t exhibited the same power this season.

“We still hold out hope that he can get it going,” Showalter said. “He’s got a lot of good baseball ahead of him. There’s only one way to find out and you’ve got to run him out there. Let him try to get a feel for it. His track record says at some point, it will happen, but it really hasn’t consistently yet. But he’s had some good games for us. It’s not like he hasn’t hit all year, just not consistently.”

Showalter doesn’t sense that Reynolds is trying too hard to pull the ball. Reynolds has shown a willingness to go to right field. It’s just not happening.

“The pitchers are throwing hard in and soft in, pitches you can’t hit the other way,” Showalter said. “He’s trying. People who sit up there sometimes and critique it don’t think he’s trying to do it. He’s trying to do it every at-bat. He just can’t execute it.

“First of all, it’s not really a natural thing for him. He’s a pull hitter for the most part. You watch him in BP, he’ll go two rounds and not hit a ball to the left of second base. He works on it. Just hasn’t been able to carry it into a game.”

Showalter said he’ll give Reynolds a day off “here and there.”

“I don’t think mentally he handles that real well,” Showalter said, “but I always serve the team’s needs first.”

Meanwhile, the Orioles are waiting to find out whether Jim Thome’s epidural will relieve the inflammation caused by a herniated disc in his neck. Thome had the injection on Friday, and it routinely takes three to five days to know the results.

Thome could receive a second injection if the first one doesn’t have the desired effect.

“I think in the next couple days we’ll have an idea of the timeframe we’re dealing with here,” Showalter said.

An MRI showed “fresh inflammation” rather than an existing condition, Showalter said.

Update II: Miguel Gonzalez has allowed one hit in five scoreless innings - B.J. Upton’s double with one out in the first inning. He’s walked three, struck out four and thrown 48 of 78 pitches for strikes.

If only he had a lead.

David Price has held the Orioles to two hits in five scoreless innings - Lew Ford’s one-out double in the second and Robert Andino’s one-out single in the third. Andino was thrown out trying to steal second base as J.J. Hardy struck out.

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