Reimold: "I plan on playing left field unless somebody tells me differently"

Nolan Reimold doesn't check the blogs and scroll the tweets. He relies on friends and family for Orioles updates. Many times, the information is unsolicited. Occasionally, it's unwanted.

Reimold has been made aware that the Orioles are trying to acquire a left fielder, which is out of his control. All he can do is get ready for spring training, and he's supremely confident that he'll be a full-go when he reports to the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota.

There have been no complications while Reimold recovers from surgery to remove a ruptured disc in his neck and fuse two vertebrae. He's working out on equipment, recommended by Orioles special assistant Brady Anderson, that he purchased for the garage at his home in Fleming Island, Fla., 15 miles outside of Jacksonville. And he should be cleared to begin baseball activities next month.

"As far as my actual rehab, I've kind of graduated from that, but I always want to keep doing exercises to stay on top of it, maintenance, and to keep getting stronger, too," he said. "I still do all the exercises for it a couple times a week and I do my other strengthening, minus the stuff that I'm not really able to do yet. I'm not able because I don't want to risk it until I get clearance, so it's minus anything that really loads up my back with a lot of weight. I can do anything other than that.

"I'm supposed to get an X-ray in December and it's supposed to be fused by then. They just want to make sure, and when it's totally fused, then the surgeon said he would release me and I could do normal activities. I should get the go-ahead to do anything I want."

What he wants is to be the regular left fielder. He had the job coming out of spring training this year and batted .313/.333/.627 with six doubles, five homers and 10 RBIs in 16 games before the injury worsened, numbness developed in the tips of his fingers and the rest of his season went cold.

"I haven't heard anything from anyone directly," Reimold said. "I just hear it from friends or family through the media. And if they want to get another left fielder, they can do that, but I use that as motivation and to get better, and I plan on playing left field unless somebody tells me differently. So, that's the focus this offseason."

Reimold watched the playoffs on television, his neck feeling better as his heart ached.

"I wanted to be a part of it all, but I was happy for the team, happy for the fans who got to see a winning product on the field. It's great for the organization and the city going forward," Reimold said.

"I sat at home and it was pretty hard to watch, but I didn't really have a choice. I just watched, cheered for the guys and did my rehab, and I hope to be part of it next year."

He also hopes that fans and media will stop viewing him as being injury-prone. It's a label that leaves a mark now that it's been unfairly stuck on him.

reimold-hitting-sidebar.jpg"I'm not going to lose it," he said. "I don't know. I can't think of anything (before this year) where I missed time. I had Achilles surgery in 2009, but I didn't really miss any time for that. I played the whole year. I shut myself down near the end because I was told it would be a four-month rehab and I wanted to get a head start. I played a long time with pain. And 2010 is when everything goes wrong because I sucked and I was down in Norfolk, too. I wasn't on the field with the Orioles, but I was on the field. I think that's where everything goes wrong."

Reimold was limited to 50 games at Double-A Bowie in in 2007 because of oblique strains on both sides.

"That was five years ago when I missed time during the year," he said, noting that he played all of 2008, all of 2009 except for the late shutdown, and all of 2010 and 2011.

Maybe that label will peel off in 2013. Reimold isn't soft. You don't get smacked in the face by a fastball and return as quickly as he did in spring training.

He plans on being ready in February, ready for anything the Orioles toss in his path, including a new left fielder.

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