Lavarnway getting defensive today, Reimold impresses Showalter (updated)

BRADENTON, Fla. - Ryan Lavarnway is trying to separate himself from the pack of catching candidates with the Orioles. He’s doing it today at McKechnie Field.

Lavarnway has thrown out both Pirates runners attempting to steal, cutting down Gregory Polanco in the first inning and Jordy Mercer in the third. He was 1-for-6 this spring.

Lavarnway also has grounded into one of the Orioles’ three double plays in the first three innings.

Alejandro De Aza and Steve Pearce opened the first inning with singles, Chris Davis led off the second with a bunt single against the shift and Ryan Flaherty singled into right field leading off the third.

The game was scoreless until Pearce led off the top of the fourth inning with his fifth home run, a shot to left-center field off Jared Hughes. He’s 13-for-33 this spring.

Jimmy Paredes followed with a double, making him 14-for-32 with four doubles, a triple, a home run and 10 RBIs. Delmon Young reached when the Pirates let his pop up drop between first and second base, and Paredes scored on Davis’ single up the middle.

Young scored on Lavarnway’s grounder to second, increasing the Orioles’ lead to 3-0, and Davis came home on Everth Cabrera’s single past a drawn-in infield. Cabrera stole his first base and scored on Flaherty’s second hit of the day for a 5-0 lead.

Flaherty wasn’t in the original lineup.

Ubaldo Jimenez has allowed three hits in three innings, but he’s faced only one batter above the minimum because of Lavarnway. Jimenez hasn’t walked or struck out a batter.

Jimenez has walked only one in his last three starts covering 11 innings. He’s thrown 40 pitches today, 26 for strikes.

Jimenez got ahead 0-2 to three of the first four Pirates.

reimold-hitting-sidebar.jpgNolan Reimold is on the trip today. He’s 8-for-27 with a double, home run, six RBIs, five walks and two stolen bases.

“This is Nolan before he got hurt so far,” said manager Buck Showalter. “You can see him. He’s just playing without caution. Even physically, the eyeball test is better. He’s doing everything that everybody else is doing, and then some. And you can see it on his face how good he feels. This guy has had issues for three years, and some of it life-altering issues. The heck with getting ready to play baseball. How about picking up your kids.

“I like where he is. Nolan’s 31, but he’s really 28 baseball-wise. He’s obviously in great condition. We’re getting as good, if not better times than we’ve ever gotten on everything. He’s running, sliding. I’ve only seen him back off a little bit one time and he should have.”

Showalter is bothered by the notion that Reimold is soft due to his surgeries and trips to the disabled list. Guys who immediately want back in the lineup after taking a fastball to the face, play on a torn Achilles and rush back from surgery to remove a herniated disc and fuse vertebrae usually are lauded for their toughness.

“One description of Nolan as soft, it’s just the opposite,” Showalter said. “Most people would never have attempted to keep doing what he’s doing with the things he’s had. They would have pulled the dirt in a long time ago and moved on.

“He might be one of those guys, 28 to 32, look out. He could be this year’s Steve Pearce. I like what I see a lot. I don’t think you’ll find a more athletic guy in the big leagues this year than Nolan Reimold, if you want to test him out.”

Reimold has a place in the organization after settling for a minor league deal. The Orioles aren’t going to release him this spring, but he may have to start out at Triple-A Norfolk because of the crowded outfield in camp.

“He’ll be at least there if I’ve got anything to say about it, if he doesn’t make this team,” Showalter said.

“Numbers-wise, that’s something you can always control. There’s ways to part the waters. He’s done everything to make you think there’s a reason why you took him (to camp) two or three years. He did good things. There aren’t many people here with a better on-base percentage than him.

“I like Nolan. There’s really not a down part of his game if he can stay on the field. He’s another guy that we created an opportunity for him and we got him. He had other opportunities to go elsewhere.”

Update: Jimenez has thrown five scoreless innings, allowing four hits, walking none and striking out three. He retired the Pirates in order in the fifth.

Jimenez has walked one batter in his last 13 innings.

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