Could Nolan be rollin’ as the starter in left field?

As Orioles fans wonder who will start at certain positions for the 2012 Birds, there are indications that manager Buck Showalter prefers Nolan Reimold as his starting left fielder next year.

No one from the club - Showalter included - has said with certainty that Reimold is the starting left fielder moving forward. But in an interview at the Winter Meetings with Mel Antonen of MASN’s “The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report,” here is what Buck said about Reimold:

“(I want him) just to continue to be healthy. ... I like Nolan a lot. I don’t think there are many right-handed hitters that run better than Nolan Reimold. There is a part of you that wants to part the waters and say ‘Nolan there you go, let’s go, 500 or 600 at bats.’

“He was impressive to me last year. I think there is a lot more there and you throw out the age because Nolan has had a lot of little nagging injuries along the way.

“He finally got a chance to show us what he is capable of doing from a health standpoint. I’m a big Nolan Reimold fan. He’s a guy you can trust physically and emotionally. He’s got a chance to be a part of something.”

Those may be the strongest comments yet from Showalter in support of the 28-year-old Reimold, who was the Orioles’ second-round pick at 22 out of Bowling Green in the 2005 draft.

In September, Reimold showed a combination of power and speed with an OPS of .973 in the month and he went 6-for-6 stealing bases.

In parts of the last three seasons with the Orioles, Reimold has 741 career at-bats and has hit .256 with 33 doubles, five triples, 31 homers, 104 RBIs, a .440 slugging average and .779 OPS.

On Aug. 10, Reimold hit his second career walk-off homer and this one came against the White Sox after he hit one against Toronto on May 27, 2009.

Since 2000, only three other Orioles have two walk-off homers:
* Cal Ripken (both in 2000)
* Tony Batista (2002, 2003)
* Brian Roberts (2005, 2010)

Walk-offs or not, I think it is time for Reimold to walk into the starting lineup and stay there all year. The most at-bats he’s ever had in the majors in one year is 358.

Showalter sounds ready to give Reimold a shot at regular playing time in left field. I say that is a good move.

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