Chavez comes up with big spring, but Reimold should still start in left

Endy Chavez may prove to be a real nice pickup for the Orioles this year. He has been among the team’s best hitters at spring training. In fact, he is batting .500 at 14-for-28. That is robust.

Some have even speculated that Chavez could get some playing time in left field this year - and maybe even play ahead of Nolan Reimold. I say that is crazy talk. It’s time to see what Reimold can do once and for all as a regular for this club and three good weeks or so at camp by Chavez should not alter that plan.

We’ll see if Buck Showalter agrees. I expect that he does and he made several comments during the offseason which led me to believe he has plans to see what Reimold can do this year, too, - and he is the one that makes out the lineup card.

Reimold, the club’s second-round draft pick out of Bowling Green in 2005, has 1,986 career at-bats in the minors and 741 in the majors. Reimold has spent parts of the past three seasons in Triple-A, playing 104 games with the Orioles in 2009, 39 in 2010 and 87 last year.

He hit .247 with 13 homers and 45 RBIs in 267 at-bats last season. If he gets twice as many chances this year and could double that production, that would produce some decent power stats. No, you can’t just project that out, but I think he is quite capable of a 25-homer, 90-RBI year given 500 or more plate appearances.

Here is the biggest reason for Reimold to play over Chavez: The Orioles need to find out this year - finally - if Reimold is a part of their future or not. Getting 267 at-bats, he can show he might be. Getting a full year, he should show us for sure whether he’s in or out of the future plans.

He needs to improve his defense in left and I feel he would with more regular playing time. He has some speed and pop and has sure enough hustle and some of that “want to” Buck talks about.

Reimold is hitting just .179 this spring, so Chavez is out-hitting him by a large margin in Florida. I couldn’t care less about that. We knew going into spring training that this is Reimold’s time to prove he’s a nugget and those games in Florida didn’t change anything.

Chavez could prove to be an excellent addition in the role he was acquired to fill - fourth outfielder. He’s a solid defender and would be someone to turn for pinch hitting, pinch running or a late-inning defensive replacement. He can give any of the three starting outfielders a day off or sub in if there are any injuries.

But Reimold should be the starter in left field this year, no matter who has a great spring batting average - or who doesn’t.

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